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Merkel implores Germans to back Laschet at election to succeed her

Merkel implores Germans to back Laschet at election to succeed her

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the plenary hall of the lower house of Parliament, or Bundestag, during one of the last sessions before the federal elections in Berlin, Germany, September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel made an impassioned plea to German voters on Tuesday (Sep 7) to back a government led by conservative Armin Laschet in this month's national election, saying their other option was a left-wing ruling coalition.

After losing their lead in opinion polls to the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) last month, the CDU/CSU conservative bloc is relying increasingly on warnings of a lurch to the left under an SPD-led coalition to try to revive its struggling campaign.

At stake is the future course of Germany, Europe's largest economy and most populous country, after 16 years of steady, centre-right leadership under Merkel. She plans to step down after the Sep 26 election.

"Citizens have the choice in a few days: either a government that accepts the support of the (far-left) Linke party with the SPD and the Greens, or at least does not exclude it," she told lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

"... or a federal government led by the CDU and CSU with Armin Laschet as chancellor - a federal government that leads our country into the future with moderation," she added, in what was likely her last speech to the chamber.

The far-left Linke pitched themselves on Monday as would-be coalition partners for the SPD and Greens, both of whom would be uncomfortable with such a red-green-red alliance.

The SPD's candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has repeatedly distanced himself from the Linke, calling the party unfit for government as long as it does not clearly commit to the NATO military alliance, the transatlantic partnership with the United States, and solid public finances.

Merkel said Laschet would lead a government that stands for "stability, reliability, moderation and the middle ground - and that is exactly what Germany needs".

But Laschet's promise of "steadfastness" is failing to resonate with voters worried about climate change, immigration and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking after Merkel, Scholz told the Bundestag: "A new beginning is needed, and I hope and I am sure that it will succeed."

Source: Reuters

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