Chancellor Merkel party braces for drubbing in German state polls - GulfToday

Chancellor Merkel party braces for drubbing in German state polls


Chancellor Angela Merkel attends an event. File photo

Gulf Today Report

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are bracing for a rout in two key regional polls Sunday, as German voters go to the polls in regional elections in two western states that pose an early test of the conservative Christian Democrats' prospects of retaining power in a federal vote later this year.

Voters expected to punish country’s largest party for a face-mask corruption scandal and a series of pandemic setbacks.


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Chancellor Angela Merkel, in power since 2005, is not seeking re-election in September and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is already missing the 'Merkel bonus' she has brought them with four consecutive national election victories.

The votes for new regional parliaments in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg are seen as a bellwether of the nation's mood ahead of September 26 general elections -- which will be the first in over 15 years not to feature Merkel.

Some German commentators have called the mask scandal the conservatives' "biggest crisis" since a slush-fund controversy in the 1990s ensnared former chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Armin Laschet, chairman of the German Christian Democratic Union, CDU, attends a press conference in Berlin. File/AP

New CDU chief Armin Laschet has rubbished the comparison as "absurd" but he too has sharply criticised the MPs caught up in the row, joining a chorus of condemnation from across the political spectrum.

To stop the bleed ahead of Sunday's votes, the CDU/CSU gave all of its lawmakers until Friday evening to declare any financial benefits gained from the pandemic.

CSU lawmakers Georg Nusslein and CDU lawmaker Nikolas Loebel resigned last week on allegations they pocketed hundreds of thousands of euros for acting as middlemen in the contracts.

CDU lawmaker Mark Hauptmann then stepped down after media reports accused him of lobbying for foreign governments including Azerbaijan, and promoting over-priced masks. He denies receiving any payments.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, seen as the nation's moral arbiter, said politicians cashing in on a crisis was "poison for democracy".

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