News / Europe

Merkel Ends Campaign Battling Euroskeptics

German Chancellor and conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel (C) waves after giving a speech during a CDU election campaign rally in Berlin, Sept. 21, 2013.
German Chancellor and conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel (C) waves after giving a speech during a CDU election campaign rally in Berlin, Sept. 21, 2013.
Reuters
— Angela Merkel wrapped up her re-election campaign on Saturday with an appeal to defend Europe and her center-right coalition against Euroskeptics who threaten to break into the German parliament for the first time in Sunday's election.
    
With a third of the 62 million voters still undecided and the small Alternative for Germany (AfD) tapping into impatience with euro zone bailouts, Europe's most powerful leader risks spending her third term in an awkward right-left coalition.
    
"Lots of people won't make up their mind until the last minute. Now is the time to reach every undecided voter and get their support," she told supporters in Berlin, before flying to her Baltic coast constituency for a final campaign stop.
    
She did not name the AfD, who have emerged in seven months to become the wild card of Germany's first federal election since the euro zone debt crisis began. The AfD wants Greece and other struggling states to be expelled from the single currency.
    
But Merkel spent half her speech defending the European Union, which had been largely ignored in the campaign because her Christian Democrats (CDU) and the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD) mostly agree on how to tackle the crisis.
    
"Europe is economically important, yes, but it is much more than that. Next year we'll be thinking back to the start of the World War I 100 years ago," said the 59-year-old chancellor. "Most of us here have never had to live through war."
    
"In the coming years we must keeping working for the success of this wonderful continent," she said to loud applause.
    
Supporters of the anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) sail a boat next to the square where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding an election campaign rally in Stralsund, Sept. 21, 2013.
   
Supporters of the anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) sail a boat next to the square where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding an election campaign rally in Stralsund, Sept.21, 2013.Supporters of the anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) sail a boat next to the square where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding an election campaign rally in Stralsund, Sept.21, 2013.
x
Supporters of the anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) sail a boat next to the square where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding an election campaign rally in Stralsund, Sept.21, 2013.
Supporters of the anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) sail a boat next to the square where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding an election campaign rally in Stralsund, Sept.21, 2013.
The AfD's rapid rise in the polls forced the CDU to change tactics at the last minute. After studiously ignoring it, they brought out respected Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble this week to attack it as "dangerous" for Germany's economy.
    
Polls put Merkel's conservatives about 13 percentage points ahead of the SPD, meaning she will almost certainly become the third post-war chancellor to win a third term. The other two were Konrad Adenauer, who oversaw post-war reconstruction, and Helmut Kohl who led the country through reunification.
    
But her coalition with the struggling Free Democrats (FDP) and the combined leftist opposition are neck-and-neck in polls, making the vote in Europe's largest economy too close to call.
    
She could win a slim majority with the FDP or be forced into talks with the SPD that could drag on for months and result in changes to her cabinet, including the departure from the finance ministry of Schaeuble, who has been a key player in the crisis.
    
The AfD's surge to just under the 5-percent threshold for, entering the Bundestag lower house risks depriving Merkel of her center-right majority and stirs concern about Euroskepticism — though the party's impact on policy would be limited.
    
"Keep cool and vote for our chancellor!" and "Angie" read banners in the crowd of about 4,000 CDU supporters in a Berlin boxing arena just around the corner from SPD headquarters.
    
"Merkel is doing a great job leading the country and deserves another term," said Wolfgang Schwarz, a 54-year-old lawyer who voiced uncertainty about what kind of governing coalition would emerge after Sunday's election.
    
Theresa Neubauer, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, said Merkel's speech was "full of passion" on Europe. "I don't like the AfD and I hope they don't get into parliament on Sunday," she said.
    
'Rabble-rousers'
   
But while Merkel has high popularity ratings, not everyone is convinced. Ingrid Gaukler, a 35-year-old actress, said she did not like Merkel and was "dragged" to the rally by a friend.
    
"I don't like her energy policies, I don't like the way the CDU gives preferential tax treatment to married couples and I want to see a minimum wage. Her policies are only designed to help the rich," she said. "But I'm here with an open mind."
    
The top-candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Peer Steinbrueck speaks during an election campaign rally at Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 21, 2013.The top-candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Peer Steinbrueck speaks during an election campaign rally at Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 21, 2013.
x
The top-candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Peer Steinbrueck speaks during an election campaign rally at Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 21, 2013.
The top-candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Peer Steinbrueck speaks during an election campaign rally at Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 21, 2013.
The top-candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Peer Steinbrueck speaks during an election campaign rally at Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 21, 2013.
 
Merkel's challenger Peer Steinbrueck has had a tough time convincing voters that his SPD can do a better job.
    
She is credited with leading Europe safely through the debt crisis and ensuring Germany economic growth and an unemployment rate that is near post-unification lows. Steinbrueck, who argues that Merkel has spread income inequality, wants higher taxes on the rich and a minimum wage of 8.50 euros an hour.
    
Steinbrueck was finance minister in Merkel's last 'grand coalition' with the SPD from 2005-2009, which cost his party millions of votes in 2009. It has since veered further left and would exact a high price for joining another Merkel government.
    
"In 28 hours you can get rid of them, you can get rid of the most backward-looking, least capable, most loud-mouthed German government since reunification," the SPD candidate told a final rally in Frankfurt, Germany's financial center.
    
But he joined Merkel in defending the euro against critical voices like the AfD, whom he calls "rabble-rousers".
    
Steinbrueck, whose party could push German policy on the EU closer to the pro-growth and pro-integration stance of southern euro states and France, said a collapse of the euro and return of the deutsche mark would be ruinous for Germany and Europe.
    
"We are the first generation not be sacrificed on the slaughter fields," he said. "That is an exception in German history and means we have a clear responsibility to Europe."

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Andy Howsla from: Bavaria/Germany
September 22, 2013 7:25 AM
Everything the German treasury minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, is doing to "save" the Euro is poison to the economically still healthy countries in the EU.
He is taking over liabilities that have already come to an amount of 622 billion €, whereas the total debt accumulated mostly in the southern part of the the euro-zone is at 13 trillion € (!).
This would mean, if the Merkel policy of saving the euro (properly saving the debt-ridden banks) should be carried on, the German tax-payer would be liable for 4 to 5 trillion €. That's mad.

And that's why the AfD has grown that fast; the party does NOT want to "expel" the Greek or other weak nations from the euro-zone just like this, but it wants to give them back the possibility to become cheaper in the interior and regain their capacity to compete by devaluing their own currency (it's their ONLY possibility to recover).
They cannot do so within the euro-zone, where they HAVE TO accumulate gigantic sums of debts.

Merkel is blackmailed by banks and investors who want a bail-out from their gambling-losses: they say to her: give us the taxpayers' money or we'll disappear with our investments leaving behind a bankrupt Europe and a lot of questions coming to you from your (former) voters.

AfD stands for a peaceful Europe of individual (national) responsibility and freedom, values the German government is fighting against at the moment by its own policy.

The AfD leader, Professor Dr. Bernd Lucke (professor of political economics) is a very intelligent and very honorable, upright man.


Nobody can unite Europe by force .And nobody will.
That's what we're fighting for.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid