Merkel Heir Plays Security Card to Rescue Bid for Chancellor
(Bloomberg) -- Armin Laschet indicated he’ll be focusing on the signature conservative issue of Germany’s security at home and abroad to try to regain the lead over the Social Democrats in the final days of the German election campaign.
Laschet, who is seeking to succeed the outgoing Angela Merkel as chancellor after the Sept. 26 vote, said that only a coalition led by their CDU/CSU alliance can provide stability for Europe’s biggest economy in uncertain times.
He reiterated a warning that the Social Democrats -- who are ahead in the polls under current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz -- could join with the Greens and far-left Die Linke party to form a coalition that will lead Germany in what he believes is the wrong direction.
“With the SPD, Greens and Left we would get a different republic,” Laschet said Monday at a news conference in Berlin. Citing what he has called the “disaster” in Afghanistan, he said security issues are the most pressing for German voters.
The 60-year-old premier of North Rhine-Westphalia has less than two weeks to turn things around, or the conservatives risk being excluded from power for the first time since Merkel’s first of four terms began in 2005.
Laschet’s campaign has been marred by missteps and has so far failed to mobilize traditional conservative voters, while Scholz has consistently promoted himself as a steady hand and the true heir of the centrist Merkel. In the second of three television debates Sunday, snap polls again suggested that Scholz was the winner, despite Laschet markedly stepping up his attacks on his rival.
Laschet also announced details of the conservatives’ short-term program for government on Monday. Here are some of the main points:
- Setting up a U.S.-style national security council to coordinate domestic and foreign intelligence
- Increasing protection for security forces and more surveillance cameras
- Tax cuts for small and mid-sized businesses
- Tax incentives for climate-friendly tech and push on solar power
- Ease bureaucracy and speed approval process for infrastructure projects
- Provide more cash for parents and children
There was a crumb of good news for Laschet on Sunday when his CDU party beat the SPD into second place in municipal elections in Lower Saxony.
“Two weeks before the election, the CDU have shown that we’re the strongest political force,” Laschet said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.