German election campaign boils up with attacks and accusations

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Germany’s administrator Olaf Scholz said on Sunday the opposition Greens candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, lacked political experience, describing himself as better placed to steer Europe’s largest economy after a Sept. 26 election.

Scholz’s comments show how the German election campaign is heating up quite five months before the particular vote, which could even be seen in continued attacks on conservative candidate Armin Laschet from his Bavarian rival Markus Soeder.

The Greens said last week Baerbock would run to become chancellor, the primary time the left-leaning ecologist party has sought the highest job in its 40-year history.

Support for the Greens has surged over the past year to within a couple of points of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Two recent polls show the Greens overtaking the conservative CDU/CSU alliance.

Scholz, 62, running for his centre-left Social Democrats, the junior partner in Merkel’s ruling coalition, said the race was open despite his party trailing in third place in polls.

“Germany is one among the world’s biggest and most successful industrial countries. It should be travel by someone who has experience in governing, who not only wants to control , but can actually roll in the hay ,” Scholz told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“I am the candidate for chancellor who has the required experience and knowledge for this task,” Scholz said.

Baerbock, 40, a former champion trampolinist, has held no office but has promised voters a “new start” with attention on investing in education, and digital and green technologies.

Baerbock told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung she would be tough on Russia and China if she became chancellor.

Merkel, who is stepping down after 16 years in power, has refused to openly endorse CDU party leader Laschet, 60, who saw off a challenge from his Bavarian rival Soeder to clinch the conservative alliance’s candidacy last week.

After the bitter leadership battle, support for the conservative bloc fell by two points to 27% which helped the Greens overtake the CDU/CSU alliance during a Kantar poll for Bild am Sonntag. The Greens surged six points to twenty-eight .

Scholz’s Social Democrats was third with 13%, followed by the far-right AfD with 10%, the business-friendly FDP with 9% and leftist Die Linke with 7%.

Scholz said he expected the CDU/CSU bloc to stay weak and achieve an election result well below 30% which might clear the way for a coalition without the conservatives.

Laschet ignored renewed attacks from Soeder at the weekend during which the Bavarian state premier accused Laschet of representing “old school” policies and a scarcity of will to modernise the country.

Laschet told Radio Bremen public broadcaster that Soeder’s comments had made him laugh because it had been Soeder’s CSU party that repeatedly had criticised Merkel for her centrist policies over the past years.