May 22, 2022

In Germany, a campaign in the center for uncertain elections

It is in a paradoxical climate that the Germans will vote on Sunday, September 26, to elect the deputies who will then be responsible for investing the future chancellor. On the one hand, the suspense is real because the game is close between Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Armin Laschet (CDU), the two candidates best placed to succeed Angela Merkel. On the other hand, the uncertainty is very relative because the winner, in all likelihood, will govern as the outgoing chancellor did during her sixteen years at the head of the country: in the center.

The qualifier of “centrist” moreover sums up the campaign which is coming to an end quite well. Contrary to what had been the case in 2017, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party did not impose its favorite themes in the debates. Significantly, the word “immigration” was only spoken once by AfD candidate Alice Weidel during the televised debate which brought together the leaders of the seven major parties on Thursday 23 September. As for the word “Islam”, it has not been mentioned once.

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For his part, Armin Laschet did not seek to poach on AfD lands. If the left could reproach him for having established a dialogue with an anti-ax of the radical movement of Querdenker (“free-thinkers”) during one of its meetings, this gesture remained isolated. The CDU candidate has repeatedly said that “The main threat to the security of the country is far-right terrorism”. In recent years, other leaders of his political family, such as CSU leader Markus Söder, before the 2018 Bavarian elections, had been much less clear, not hesitating to campaign on identity and security issues in the hope of siphoning off the AfD.

Convergence towards Europe

Olaf Scholz, meanwhile, made his way clearly through the left center. As a good Social Democrat, he put justice at the heart of his speech, with as a symbolic marker the raising of the minimum wage from 9.60 to 12 euros gross per hour. But even as the SPD leadership leans much more to the left than him, he did not make the strategic choice to campaign on the rally of the left. While he did not categorically rule out an alliance with the Die Linke party, he affirmed that the condition for any coalition was the prior recognition of NATO and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the service responsible for internal intelligence. Two organs that Die Linke wants to suppress …

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