Germany: Expert looks at Merkel’s response to pandemic
The Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), are polling at 26 percent, just four points ahead of the Greens, ahead of the September federal election. Support for the environmentalist group has risen markedly in recent months and should be a cause for concern.
On Wednesday, Mrs Merkel performed a humiliating U-turn on a planned Easter lockdown which would have seen churches and all shops closed over the holiday.
The Chancellor admitted she had made a “mistake” by ordering it as she announced the shutdown would not go ahead, despite Europe being on the cusp of a third wave of Covid.
Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, warned her approach to the coronavirus pandemic may haunt the CDU at the ballot box in the autumn, as Mrs Merkel steps down
He said: “Mismanagement hurts.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been warned voters will punish her party in the elections
The CDU is battling its lowest poll rating in a year
“Last March, a deft response to the pandemic sent support for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her CDU/CSU almost into the stratosphere.”
He added: “This is no longer the case.”
Mr Schmieding said “confusing policy shifts and slow vaccination progress have now undermined public confidence in the ability of the CDU/CSU” and the parties were likely to suffer the consequences in September.
It comes after the results of a new poll released this week showed just 26 percent of German voters would back the CDU/CSU if the elections were held on Sunday.
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This marks the conservatives’ lowest support rating in a year.
Focus, a German news magazine, ran a headline on its website predicting the demise of the CDU following the damning poll results.
It read: “Union in free fall”.
The German Chancellor is due to step down from her top post over the coming months and is preparing to hand the reins of Europe’s biggest economy over following a year of turmoil.
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The CDU suffered two recent election defeats
Mark Hauptmann on Friday resigned from the CDU over the mask scandal
Mrs Merkel’s party suffered two heavy defeats in recent regional elections, with the Greens winning Baden-Württemberg on 32.6 percent of the vote and the Social Democrats coming in first in Rhineland-Palatinate on with 35.7 percent.
The results put the CDU nine points behind the Greens in Baden-Württemberg and eight points behind the left-leaning SPD in Rhineland-Palatinate.
CDU leader Armin Laschet tried his best to put on a brave face following the defeats.
He said the public were dissatisfied with how the government had handled the pandemic and allegations against CDU lawmakers.
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Mr Laschet had been widely tipped as the natural joint candidate to run as the CDU/CSU’s pick for chancellor.
But a series of recent corruptions scandals have damaged his authority and dragged the party’s name through the dirt.
Mark Hauptmann on Friday became the latest CDU politician to resign from the party in connection with the face mask debacle.
The CDU regional association in the state of Thuringia said his resignation will take “immediate effect”.
Mrs Merkel will step down later this year
Mr Hauptmann had withdrawn from the Bundestag earlier this month.
He has been accused of bribery but has strongly denied any connection to the mask affair, saying he received no financial benefits through contracts to purchase face coverings during the pandemic.
Reports claim he may have received nearly €1 million in commission for arranging maks deals.
He is under investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in Jena, a city in Thuringia.
On Thursday, the Thuringian State Criminal Police Office searched Mr Hauptmann’s constituency offices and the associated district offices as well as apartments and offices in Thuringia, Brandenburg and Berlin as part of the investigation.
The poll was carried out from March 16 to 22, with a total of 2,511 adults taking part.
The survey was carried out by Forsa for German TV channel group RTL/N-TV.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.