SPD and Union continue to go head to head

If in the end it was not enough for a red-red-green alliance, the SPD had no potential for blackmail, the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus, the headquarters of the CDU, encouraged itself. Then the key to the chancellorship lies with the FDP. FDP boss Christian Lindner decides in this constellation whether it comes to black-yellow-green or red-yellow-green, it said.

In the CSU it was said that the Union was ready to negotiate with the FDP and the Greens, and that CSU boss Markus Söder also supported this. “We cannot refuse if there is a possibility of forming a government.” It will depend crucially on the attitude of FDP leader Christian Lindner.

Söder had previously made it clear that he would refuse to form a government if the Union did not go through the race as number one. “The result is brutal,” said the CDU federal executive committee. And yet the most important goal has evidently been achieved: to prevent red-red-green.

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Angela Merkel advertised Laschet

The fight for first place had been head-to-head in the weeks leading up to the election. Even if in the last polls SPD Chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz was always in the favor of the voters, Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet was able to make up some ground recently. During the last few meters of the election campaign, he received support from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had not stood as a member of the Bundestag after 31 years.

At the weekend, the Chancellor had once again worked hard for her Union. On Friday, she appeared at the CSU closing event in Munich together with Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder and Laschet. On Saturday she again promoted Laschet in his hometown Aachen. Merkel gave both foreign and domestic political reasons for her support for Laschet.

Angela Merkel and Armin Laschet

The Chancellor spoke again in the run-up to the election for the Union candidate.

(Photo: AP)

For example, Germany will receive less support from its partners when it comes to cooperation with the secret service if it is no longer responsible for the security of the country itself. She criticized the fact that many parties had talked about distributing money in the election campaign. “But working out and distributing are two sides of the same coin,” she said, warning against strangling the economy through tax increases.

For Armin Laschet, the election campaign went very badly overall. It was not until January that the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia was established as CDU chairman. After eleven agonizing days, he was able to prevail in April against CSU boss Markus Söder as Union chancellor candidate.

After that it had to be quick, too quick. First came the election manifesto, which Söder interpreted consistently differently after publication, especially in terms of tax policy. Söder demarcated himself with his “Bayern plan” including maternal pensions and other social benefits, and on top of that did not stop teasing his conqueror.

There were also breakdowns for which he was responsible: Laschet laughed in Erftstadt, which was destroyed by floods, while Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke serious words in front of the cameras. That was “stupid”, Laschet later apologized. But it got stuck: He did not understand the seriousness of the situation.

The election campaign went better for Scholz than for Laschet

Laschet could give clever speeches as he wanted, attack Olaf Scholz and Annalena Baerbock in the TV triad, set topics, it didn’t help. The polls sank and sank, then seemed in the basement as if concreted, especially its popularity ratings. Only two weeks before the election did the situation stabilize and there was a slight upward trend again.

The election campaign went better for Olaf Scholz. When he was asked a few days ago whether he had an appointment with Saskia Esken on election Sunday, who wanted to force him to take a left course, Scholz replied: “I have an appointment with the people next Sunday.” It had looked like this for a long time whether election day would be a dark one for Scholz.

But finally, the 63-year-old looked humbly, but full of joy, on election Sunday, as it is called in his environment. The good poll numbers had recently spurred Scholz, the otherwise rather stiff Scholz moved through the election campaign with a bouncy. Again and again he said that the encouragement from the population “touched” him. Scholz was more approachable, more relaxed. The SPD’s election campaign also contributed to the good performance of the SPD. After the election debacle of 2017, the SPD vowed to learn from its mistakes. She had external experts prepare a long report with the exact title: “Learning from mistakes”. And the amazing thing: the comrades stuck to it.

At his closing rally in his constituency in Potsdam on Saturday, Scholz confirmed his desire for a coalition with the Greens. “This is my favorite coalition,” he said. In his constituency in Potsdam, the Green Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock is also running as a direct candidate. Most recently, Scholz had repeatedly emphasized his good relationship with FDP leader Christian Lindner. He needs Lindner for a traffic light coalition with the Greens. Otherwise only an alliance with the Left Party will bring him to the Chancellery.

But the FDP leader was stubborn until the end. On Saturday in Düsseldorf he again emphasized a tough stance in possible negotiations about the formation of a government. Just as the FDP broke off talks on a Jamaica coalition with the Union and the Greens in 2017 because Germany would have been sent “on a green-black drift to the left with marginal FDP participation”, so this time too one would stand firm. “We are not ready to send our country on a left drift in 2021 either,” he said.

Possible coalitions: the speculation

One is only ready for “a government in the middle”, in which there will be no tax increases and no easing of the debt brake. Scholz should not have liked to hear that Lindner was again critical of the SPD and the Greens. During the FDP election campaign, he assumed that these two parties were “wide open” to a coalition with the left.

In the past few weeks, Lindner had repeatedly made it clear that he favored a coalition with the Union and the Greens. In his one-hour speech, he underpinned the plan to advance climate protection by reducing bureaucracy.

Approval procedures urgently need to be accelerated so that industrial companies can implement CO2-reduction projects. Germany’s industry is innovative and ready for investments, but lengthy approval procedures are a block on the leg.

Laschet dissatisfied with the result of the CDU

The Green Chancellor candidate Baerbock, on the other hand, does not want to worry about a possible coalition after the federal election. “I’m campaigning until the last minute,” she said on Saturday in Potsdam at a meeting with citizens. Do not participate in the mind games of others.

Hard weeks lie behind the Greens. Until recently, Annalena Baerbock’s campaign was unable to recover from initial mistakes. When she took over the top candidacy in April, it still looked as if the Greens might conquer the Chancellery.

With 28 percent, the party was stronger than ever and was also ahead of the Union and the SPD. As a result, the polls dwindled inexorably – despite all the perseverance slogans of the party leadership. “A duel has turned into a three-way fight, we actually imagined it differently,” said Baerbock in the final spurt of the election campaign to the Handelsblatt. “But we give everything to become as strong as possible.”
Until the very end, she spoke of moving into the Chancellery – for example at the “final round” on ARD and ZDF on Thursday evening. The Greens want to be the strongest force, she said. This goal has not been achieved.

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