There has been an upbeat mood at the Christian Democrats’ conference three weeks before the party hopes to win the German election. With techno music and bright colours on display, it was clearly trying to beam the message to voters that it is vibrant, modern, and can take the country forward.Stepping into the spotlight in Dortmund alongside party leader Angela Merkel was her ally, the Bavarian conservative Edmund Stoiber. His controversial comments about people from the former East Germany dented the opposition’s campaign against Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. “Germany is at a crossroads,” Merkel said. “It can continue along the same path or it can turn towards a new beginning with us.” While the Christian Democrats are favourites to win the poll, it is not clear if they will gain an outright majority. They could be forced into a grand coalition with the ruling Social Democrats.