September 3, 2021
BERLIN (Reuters) – The leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) presented a diverse “team of the future” on Friday, turning to the lieutenants to help reboot his flagging campaign ahead of a Sept. 26 national election that he is at growing risk of losing.
Armin Laschet, whose conservatives have slipped behind the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) in polls, said the eight-strong group of four women and four men, one of them black, represented the diversity of Germany and his conservative bloc.
He challenged the SPD, whose candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is the voters’ favourite https://reut.rs/3Dto5Y0, to put forward a team of their own and said Germany risked lurching to the left under a government led by his centre-left rivals.
“I am especially looking forward to seeing in the next few days what other personalities the SPD has to offer…There are a lot of people hidden away at the moment,” Laschet said, lining up at the front of a V-shaped formation with his team.
“We will fight together so that on September 26th there will not be a left-wing alliance in Germany.”
In a rare campaign intervention, CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel also took aim at Scholz https://reut.rs/3DqcuZE earlier this week for declining to rule out a coalition with the far-left Linke.
The conservative attacks on the SPD have had little apparent impact so far. Several polls this week have put the SPD ahead of the conservatives. The latest, on Friday, gave the centre-left party a 3-point lead.
Laschet’s promise of “steadfastness” is failing to resonate with voters worried about climate change, immigration and the COVID-19 pandemic. A snap poll suggested Scholz won a televised debate between the leading candidates on Sunday.
Merkel, in power since 2005, plans to stand down after the election. The CDU’s slide under Laschet marks a remarkable fall after 16 years in office and four straight national election victories under Merkel.
(Reporting by Paul Carrel; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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