Merkel camp displays unity

Germany's two conservative sister parties the CDU and CSU have made a show of unity in backing Angela Merkel as their chancellor candidate. In the months leading up to the decision the CSU had continually attacked Merkel's refugee policy. Martin Schulz has inadvertently put the CDU/CSU on the defensive, commentators observe, concluding that the SPD candidate will breathe new life into the German election campaign.

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Český rozhlas (CZ) /

Merkel facing most difficult election in her career

The SPD's soaring popularity in the polls is rousing the CDU and CSU from their complacency, radio station Český rozhlas writes commenting on the parties' meeting on Monday:

“Angela Merkel spoke of the common ground between the two parties. And Horst Seehofer stressed that there have always been different views but that this hasn't disrupted their unity. … After Schulz's rise in the SPD what seemed impossible for years now seems possible. He is greeted with expressions of gratitude at his events and the audiences cheer every time he repeats the slogans about restoring social justice. This new situation is forcing Angela Merkel to go on the defensive. It won't be enough for her to tell voters things like 'You already know me' or 'We can do it'. Merkel must prepare for the most difficult election in her career.”

Kurier (AT) /

Finally an end to sleeping-car politics

Martin Schulz could ensure that the German election campaign turns out to be surprisingly rich in content, Kurier comments:

“The fact that Schulz is gaining such an incredible amount of support with issues seen as 'fad' topics, like fairness and pay equality, certainly provides food for thought. His apparently genuine focus on issues that truly concern voters is no doubt one reason for his success - and it faces Merkel with a dilemma: she must now address the long postponed question of her party's orientation. Is it targeting the urban, liberal voters that she won over with her veering manoeuvre in 2015 - and whom Schulz threatens to lure away from her once more? Or will she shift to the right with Seehofer? Regardless of where she positions herself - whirlwind Schulz is giving both her and the election campaign a boost. The campaign is moving away from the 'sleeping-car' politics that made Merkel seem like the only option for so long, away from the muffled sentiments of the AfD which recently threatened to poison the entire discourse, and towards a campaign with calculable content. That would be a true alternative for Germany.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Emotional Schulz, stable Merkel

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung explains the different strategies of Martin Schulz and Angela Merkel in the election campaign:

“Schulz is appealing to the voters' emotions, not their reason. In these emotionally charged times that is not the worst strategy. The Union, on the other hand, could just as well use one of [former German Chancellor Konrad] Adenauer's slogans from 1957: No experiments! Merkel and her camp are relying on the Germans' opting for calm and stability in these times of global upheaval. … During the refugee crisis Merkel made mistakes that have had serious consequences for Germany and the EU. Her power has been weakened as a result. But the chancellor is the last remaining strong figure in the EU who is determined to fight against its collapse. Leadership and unity are urgently needed. Between Trump and Putin things are going to get very uncomfortable for all Europeans.”