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Elections Germany: Olaf Scholz declared winner of last debate

Armin Laschet of the CDU went on the attack, accusing the Social Democrat leader of being linked to a corruption case, but polls show Scholz remains at the forefront.

The leader of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD in its original acronym) and current Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, adds and continues the election campaign for the September 26 legislative elections. After an impressive comeback over the last few months of the campaign, Scholz was named the winner of the campaign’s second televised debate — even though CDU opponent Armin Laschet went on the attack.

The majority of viewers, both ARD (41%) and ZDF (32%), considered that Scholz had the best performance in the debate, according to results released by the two televisions in the aftermath of the head-to-head that featured the presence of Scholz and Laschet and also the leader of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock. According to the Financial Times, the latest poll for the elections, released last Sunday, places the SPD in first place with 26% of voting intentions, the CDU behind with 21%, and the Greens with 16%, in what should be the most competitive election of recent years in Germany.

The debate was marked by the more aggressive stance of the CDU’s Christian Democrat, Armin Laschet, who tried to link Scholz to recent searches carried out by the German finance ministry in the context of an investigation into the anti-money laundering department (FIU in its original acronym). “If my finance minister had worked like you, we would have had a serious problem,” said Laschet, quoted by Deutsche Welle. Scholz responded by accusing the opponent of “dishonesty”, saying the CDU candidate was deliberately trying to create the image that the investigation is for the finance ministry when in reality it is just a single FIU member.

Another of the themes that dominated part of the attention during the debate was the discussion about possible government coalitions, with the SPD and the Greens being questioned about the possibility of forming an alliance with the far-left party Die Linke. Baerbock stressed that she considers this to be “a democratic party” and has refused equivalences with the far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD). Scholz, on the other hand, avoided excluding a coalition with Die Linke but underlined that, with him, “transatlantic relations, NATO and the European Union” are essential – implying that he will place membership in these alliances as a condition to form a government with the party of the radical left.

The Financial Times also points out that Scholz and Baerbock defended some common points during the debate, such as raising the minimum wage and creating a wealth tax. Laschet has firmly opposed this latest proposal, saying he is against any tax increases.

With Angela Merkel’s departure from the leadership of the CDU/CSU coalition, the Christian Democrats are on the verge of one of their worst results ever, should the polls be confirmed. Armin Laschet has failed to galvanize the Germans, while Olaf Scholz has been able to capitalize as Merkel’s finance minister and emerge as a candidate for continuity. Perhaps, for this reason, the chancellor took part in a recent campaign by Armin Laschet and, as AFP recalls, praised the candidate in a speech this week.

This was the second of three debates between the main candidates for the chancellor’s position. The last face-to-face will take place next Sunday, a week before the legislative elections.

Source: with Agencies

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