Merkel Evokes Postwar Peace To Champion EU In Final Campaigning

Chancellor Angela Merkel went into the last day of campaigning before tomorrow’s elections evoking the European Union as a guarantor of peace and prosperity.

Merkel and her Social Democratic opponent Peer Steinbrueck crisscrossed the nation to appeal for votes, with all polls putting her Christian Democratic bloc ahead; none show a clear majority for her alliance with the Free Democrats, while some suggest the anti-euro AfD party might win seats and further complicate the post-election coalition-building.

“For centuries there was no generation in Europe that was able to live in peace for so long and we want this for our children and grandchildren,” Merkel told a rally yesterday in the city of Hanover, which was destroyed by Allied bombers. “Europe is our best guarantee that there will be no more war in Germany. And that’s why Europe is important for us.”

Merkel is struggling to assert her favoured coalition option amid reinvigorated challenges by Steinbrueck’s SPD, a weakened FDP partner and the wildcard of the AfD. Merkel winds up her campaign today in the capital Berlin and then in her Baltic Sea constituency of Stralsund; Steinbrueck addresses supporters in Frankfurt, the financial capital.

Yesterday, he attacked Merkel as lacking vision.

“There is no direction, no sounding, no compass for where the country should go in the next four years,” Steinbrueck told a crowd in the town square in Kassel, in the state of Hesse, which also votes tomorrow for regional offices. “Driving around in circles at some point means coming to a stop, and that’s what we’ve had over the past four years.”

Merkel’s Lead

Merkel’s Christian Democratic bloc held at 39 percent and her Free Democratic coalition partner gained a point to 6 percent, according to an Emnid poll published yesterday. The SPD was at 26 percent and its Green party allies slipped a point to 9 percent, the poll showed.

The anti-capitalist Left Party, which Steinbrueck rejects as a governing partner, was at 9 percent. The AfD, or Alternative for Germany, was at 4 percent, below the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats. The poll of 2,047 people between Sept. 14 and Sept. 20 provided no margin of error..

A leader of Merkel’s party, Thuringia Prime Minister Christine Lieberknecht, said in a Sept. 19 interview that she ruled out any coalition talks with the AfD because of its anti-euro stance.

Wartime Destruction

Merkel spoke in front of Hanover’s 19th century opera house, which was demolished along with most of the downtown during World War II and then rebuilt. According to the city’s website, there were 125 air raids on Hanover during the war that destroyed or badly damaged 48 percent of all buildings and left just 5 percent untouched.

“Especially those who are older still know the meaning of war,” Merkel said. “We’ve had no war for nearly 70 years. Next year, we commemorate 100 years since the start of World War I.”

Merkel said that Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, depends on “having friends in this world.”

“Our prosperity depends crucially on the fact that we also export our products, that we sell our goods,” she said.

In Kassel, Steinbrueck said that Merkel was benefiting from the reforms of her Social Democratic predecessor, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

“We’re happy that Germany is doing well, which also has something to do with Social Democratic policy,” he said.

Merkel noted that the 28-nation EU is an institution that’s about far more than ensuring prosperity.

“We are not only interested in material wealth, but we are happy that we live in democracy and freedom,” Merkel said.

Voting begins at 8 a.m. tomorrow and ends at 6 p.m. at which time German television networks ARD and ZDF release exit polls. Results based on partially counted ballots will be broadcast from about 6:15 p.m. Unless the vote is close, the winner is usually clear by about 7:30 p.m.

Source : bloomberg