Berlin (dpa) – With 13 days to go until Germany elects its next parliament, the big question is who will succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel after almost 16 years in power.
Armin Laschet of the Christian Democrats (CDU), Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats (SPD) and Annalena Baerbock of the Greens are all in the running.
Scholz is currently leading in the polls.
Each day, dpa gives you the key mood and memes from the campaign trail.
THEME OF THE DAY: STICK TOGETHER
Scholz, Laschet and Baerbock all basked in the praise of their own parties on Monday after the previous night’s election debate. Laschet was congratulated – including by former party rivals such as Friedrich Merz and Bavarian leader Markus Soeder – for going after Scholz on financial scandals and his unpalatable coalition options. This is well-worn ground by now, however, and Scholz appeared to come out on top for “trustworthiness” among the general public, according to flash polls. The coming days will reveal whether Laschet’s attacks on Scholz – and the presentation on Monday of his proposals for a first 100 days in office – will be enough for him to gain ground on his centre-left rival.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Polls are polls. But in the end it’s the voters who decide.”
Laschet, speaking after the CDU came out on top in local elections in Lower Saxony at the weekend.
TWEET OF THE DAY
“Last night’s three-way debate on [broadcasters] ARD and ZDF suffered – like its predecessor on RTL – from the wrong cast.”
Veteran journalist Gabor Steingart (@Gaborsteingart) questions why Baerbock was allowed to join Sunday’s debate in the first place, given her current low poll ratings.
GOOD DAY FOR: THE FDP
The Free Democrats (FDP) managed to squeeze into government in another state parliament on Monday, signing a coalition deal with the CDU and SPD in Saxony-Anhalt. And who did they replace? The Greens, who had been in the previous coalition. The national distribution of votes will be very different on September 26, but the coalition deal could be a sign of the FDP’s eagerness to get back into government. The pro-business party received only 6.4 per cent of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt; on the national level, they are polling consistently above 10 per cent.
BAD DAY FOR: GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY
Commentators from various sides bemoaned an inward-looking Germany after the second of three televised debates among the candidates featured not a single question about foreign policy. Not even the European Union got much of a mention, despite Brussels watching closely for who will fill Merkel’s considerable shoes. Alexander Lambsdorff – a senior figure from the FDP, which did not take part in Sunday’s debate – described the broadcast as “provincial navel-gazing.” In contrast, the first televised debate had taken place during the frantic final days of the military airlift from Kabul, and Germany’s international role was the first topic discussed.