Published: Sat, September 23, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Merkel makes final push as election looms

Merkel makes final push as election looms

Ms Merkel's anticipated win in Sunday's election is bound to be her last term in office and could see the end of an extended period of drowsiness in German politics.

"In our view, the outcome of the German election could have implications for the balance of power in the EU, especially in the Franco-German relationship", says David Zahn, head of European fixed income at Franklin Templeton investments. But then came her mighty and moral decision to accept huge numbers of refugees, and suddenly "merkeln" was a thing of the past.

The German election campaign has certainly lacked the drama and surprises of last year's USA vote. In the latest polls, the C.D.U./C.S.U., which is technically the center-right party but has a program that would be thought shockingly moderate by members of today's G.O.P., has been holding steady, at about thirty-six per cent.

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged German voters to stand up against the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany in Sunday's national election, as polls suggest support for her own party is slipping. This puts the A.F.D. well over the five-per-cent threshold guaranteeing representation in the Bundestag-a unsafe landmark.

Also, Patzelt says, "The opposition party is ensured the right to respond first to any statement issued by the government, which in turn ensures publicity".

Merkel has been chancellor since 2005 and her re-election is seen bring continuity and stability, although there is uncertainty about the composition of a likely coalition and some concern about the strength of the far right.

With her CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU on between 33 and 36 per cent, they risk hurtling towards their worst score since 1998.

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But the troubling question is, why is the A.F.D., with its ugly, racialized rhetoric, an alternative for anybody? Though AfD leader Frauke Petry is on the back-foot after the defeat of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Le Pen in France, it would be naïve to underestimate its appeal to voters.

Founded as an anti-euro party, the AfD recorded a surge in support after it began capitalising on unease in Germany over the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers since 2015. If that happens though, Merkel is likely to push for preserving the status quo, since that's her natural inclination and because she will be pressed by the FDP to resist any further fiscal integration.

What makes it possible: The pro-business FDP has rebounded this year, winning enough votes in a vote in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, in May to share power with the CDU there.

That is why it is in Prague's interest that Merkel remains German chancellor. It's a party's performance in the election that decides how many seats it gets in parliament, and who the country's leader will be. Merkel's victory isn't because long-time voters plan to re-elect her. He has struggled to gain traction with a campaign that centred on righting perceived economic injustices for Germany's have-nots. Her welcoming of refugees has exposed her to ferocious attacks, including from Trump himself.

Rock music blaring, supporters cheering, Angela Merkel sweeps on to the makeshift stage. Merkel was, as usual, controlled and directed; Schulz's response was, mostly, to defer.

Merkel, by contrast, has stuck to her position that Germany - and for that matter the rest of the European Union - has a moral obligation to welcome refugees from the terror-torn Middle East and northern Africa, and scoffs at the notion that some of the influx of newcomers have terrorist ties. "And we don't yet have that audience". One woman tells me that "Mrs Merkel is a bit too soft". We have a Presidential system. As of previous year, Xi has been officially declared the "core leader" of the CCP, a designation that his predecessor Hu Jintao never achieved.At the Congress, CCP delegates will elect a new Central Committee, which will then fill the highest positions in the party.

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