After a 3-week holiday, the ‘Iron Lady’ – as the German chancellor is called – started her campaign for the September 22 elections. Using the opportunity of the 52nd anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall (13 August 1961), when Angela Merkel was just 7, the president of Christian-Democrats turned into a teacher of contemporary history in front of the pupils of the Heinrich-Schielemann College of the Prenzalauerberg district of East Berlin. The very day when she spoke to the children about her life and passions of those years and of the present, a brochure was published, also online, that presents in detail the person whom German voters call ‘Angie.’ There are more or less known things, meant to outline – as several local newspapers wrote – the human side of the aspirant to the third mandate of chancellor, after those won in 2005 and 2009.
Current polls predict a comfortable victory for the Christian-Democrats, compared to the results foreseen for the Social-Democrats led by Peer Steinbruck. However, Angela Merkel does not forget the experiences of the last elections, when polls changed as the elections day got closer. In 2005, Merkel obtained 32.5 pc of votes; four years later, this result did not exceed 33.8 pc, being considered the worst achieved by a candidate of the CDU after the war.
Only this can explain the electoral programme of the chancellor, which includes 56 meetings throughout the entire country in support of CDU candidates; 28 meetings in August and the same number in September. Only the G-20 summit of St. Petersburg (5-6 September) will determine the temporary interruption of these electoral reunions. Merkel will conclude her electoral campaign in Berlin, on September 21, then she will go to her electoral fief situated on the bank of the Baltic Sea.
Her rival, the Social-Democrat Peer Steinbruck, who only has scheduled 13 electoral meetings until September 21, will undoubtedly have much to work in order to increase in polls. At the present moment, approximately 15 percent points separate CDU, estimated at 40 pc of the votes, from SPD, which attracts about one quarter of voters. Steinbruck laid his hopes on the big celebration organised in Berlin recently, on the occasion of the anniversary of 150 years since the founding of the party, and on the speech which he delivered on this occasion at the Brandenburg Gate. The results are not known, for now.
As for Angela Merkel, she practically started her electoral campaign at Ludwigshafen, the town where Helmut Kohl, the chancellor of German reunification, was born 83 years ago. She wanted to present herself to this electorate not only as a worthy successor of the ‘Chancellor of the unity,’ while also demonstrating at the same time that she has a proper control over the party, a reality that can only help her in the fight for obtaining a new mandate of chancellor. Naturally, one cannot ignore the visit paid by Angela Merkel to the Nazi camp of Dachau, as she was the first German chancellor that does it. The visit, during which Merkel delivered a short address, laid a wreath of flowers and visited the camp, was preceded by a strong message against anti-Semitism and racism, “a continuous threat to democracy.”
As previously emphasised, although more than four weeks remain until September 22, the acting chancellor has at least two advantages compared to her rival, Social-Democrat Peer Steinbruck. Before everything else, she enjoys a big popularity. To this, one must add, starting from the middle of this month, the positive economic balance that can only help her gain votes. The very day she began her electoral campaign, the Federal Bureau of Statistics announced that Germany continues to be the economic locomotive of Europe, registering in the last quarter an economic growth of 0.7 pc much superior to that registered in the first quarter of the year, of 0.1 pc.
In an interview published these days by ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,’ Angela Merkel insists on emphasising that, today, Germany became once again the main source of growth and stability in Europe. Asked if, after elections, she will decide to choose between coalition formulas, the chancellor said that she wants to continue the coalition between Christians and Liberals, starting from the fact that they collaborated very well in this interval, although at the beginning of the present legislature things were not at all easy.
Of course, now we can only wait to see what the electorate will decide.