This is Germany’s first general election without a

Angela Merkel

Candidate for chancellor since 2002. It turns out to be a debacle for her conservative bloc.

A slippery new candidate, the almost complete absence of the Chancellor in the election campaign and the exhaustion of voters after 16 years of conservative rule could converge to form the worst national one To deliver all-time election results of the bloc, according to pollsters and analysts.

Less than two weeks before election day, opinion polls show that Ms. Merkel’s faction, an alliance of conservative parties known collectively as the Union, holds 20% of the Votes 15 points less than January and about five points behind their center-left Social Democratic rival.

“This is already a historic failure for the Union”, “? said Manfred Güllner, head of the polling institute Forsa.

The dwindling wealth of the bloc is not only a new phenomenon, but also the resumption and acceleration of a trend that began in the late 1970s when the political landscape fell apart into smaller parties started. Ms. Merkel managed to slow down and briefly reverse this trend by ruling in the middle and extending the attraction of her party to left voters. In the absence of the Chancellor, her Christian Democratic Union has seen its first mass migration of voters towards the center-left since the 1960s.

In addition, there is a certain malaise of the government after 16 years of conservative rule, say pollsters. After such a long tenure, the CDU, which is running as a bloc with the Bavarian CDU, has a hard time arguing that it can fix the country’s antiquated digital infrastructure, energy costs and stagnating efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s hard to advocate change or to attack government deficits when we’ve been government for 16 years, ”he said. said a strategist.

That didn’t help

Armin Laschet,

the bloc’s top candidate has delivered what many commentators so far regard as a weak campaign. A majority of Germans see the 60-year-old Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia as having the leadership to solve pressing problems ranging from climate change to economic challenges, as an analysis by Prof. Güllner shows.

Mr Laschet, a happy cigarette smoker, stumbled twice in the past year. In the pandemic, he resisted Ms. Merkel’s insistence on strict restrictions and called for the economy to reopen faster. His state currently has one of the highest incidences of new Covid-19 cases.

Then, after the region suffered severe flooding in July that claimed dozens of lives, Mr Laschet was giggled during a ceremony in memory of the victims filmed – an image that has been played in an endless loop since then, raising questions about the candidate … ??? s seriousness, according to polls.

“It was inappropriate, it is not right to laugh at a moment like this” ???? said Mr. Laschet shortly after the faux pas.

Like Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Laschet is a middle class politician. In doing so, he gained power in his country, which is traditionally considered the stronghold of the left, and secured the chairmanship of the CDU in January. However, he lacks the statesmanlike authority of Ms. Merkel, record and name recognition, said pollsters.

About a third of the voters who have voted conservatively in recent years have done so because of Ms. Merkel, said Hermann Binkert, head of the opinion research institute INSA. The Conservatives would have benefited from a greater involvement of the Chancellor in the election campaign.

Mr Laschet’s application also suffered from the internal struggle to succeed as Chancellor at the head of the conservative movement, which led to divisions within the party and among its voters has.

Polls showed that a majority of CDU voters, members and legislators would have preferred it

Markus Söder,

Bavaria’s Prime Minister and CSU President, who leads the conservative card for the election. But the CDU leadership decided to nominate its chairman, the far less popular Mr. Laschet, instead.

The fight for leadership in the run-up to this decision had deterred voters and the focus from communicating a fresh, modern agenda for the election distracted, said Lars Zimmermann, a CDU politician from Berlin.

How do you think the election in Germany will turn out? Join the conversation below.

A conservative strategist said Mr Laschet’s campaign, sometimes criticized for being too passive and conflict-averse, would go on the offensive in its final days and focus on attacking rivals . Positions.

Ms. Merkel, who largely distanced herself during the election campaign and only supported Mr. Laschet a few times, sometimes seems to be resigned when her CDU is defeated on September 26th.

Years not automatically and effortlessly into the Chancellery, “that was clear to everyone,” he said. This is what Ms. Merkel said last week at a conference in Berlin.