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Germany's chancellorship race heating up

August 22, 2013

Sept. 22 will mark the latest election for the position of chancellor in Germany. The race for the leading executive office in the nation is being fought most bitterly between incumbent Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic party and Peer Steinbrueck of the Social Democrats. While Merkel has a fairly comfortable 16-point advantage in German opinion polls, both parties are pushing hard in the final month of the campaign. Discussions about the upcoming election are likely to be frequent subjects of phone calls conducted using prepaid phone cards.

Divergence in campaign advertisement emphasis
According to Reuters, there is a fundamental difference in the two parties' strategies. Christian Democrats are emphasizing Merkel's individual achievements, while the opposition has chosen to focus more on the struggles of German citizens. The news source reported that the latter decision stems from Steinbrueck's choice. Andreas Nahles, the Social Democrats' general secretary, confirmed this in an interview.

"Peer Steinbrueck didn't want to be the focal point of our ads," Nahles told the source. "He explicitly wanted these ads to be about regular people and their genuine concerns. None of these people were cast. They're all real."

Merkel, meanwhile, is front and center in her party's most recent ad. She warns against the hazards of higher taxes, as a tenet of the opposition's platform is raising taxes on Germany's wealthiest earners. The Chancellor's popularity largely stems from her tenacity during the eurozone financial crisis, and her party seems to be banking on this to secure her third term. Steinbrueck, by contrast, is not popular as an individual among voters - his support stems primarily from those opposed to Merkel at all costs.

Ex-chancellor touts opposition's chances
Based on the current numbers alone, Merkel could be viewed as a safe bet for a victory, if not a sure thing. However, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder recently stated that he believed the Social Democrats still had a chance to close the gap between Merkel and Steinbrueck. 

The one-time German head of state joined Steinbrueck at a recent rally and railed against Merkel, claiming that she would be in favor of measures that would bring the nation back to an era of what he characterized as retrograde conservatism. He also recalled the election where he lost to Merkel in 2005, during which he narrowed a 14-point deficit to a final contest where the current incumbent won by only a single point - in approximately a month.

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