“Keep calm and vote for the chancellor” is the slogan on some t-shirts at CDU rallies, but it’s been far from calm on the final full day of campaigning ahead of Sunday’s German general election.
The big two parties have been trading their final punches, Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin doing what she has done all through, trading on her personal popularity
“Personally I ask the German people to give me a strong mandate so I can serve Germany for four more years working for everybody, for a strong Germany, for a country which is respected in Europe and which helps Europe,” she said.
Merkel’s popularity far outstrips that of her CDU/CSU coalition parties, and her preferred FDP allies. Their weakness may be her undoing. Some supporters know they have a fight on their hands.
“It was a fresh source of motivation for these last hours, to fight until the end, because of the red-red-green threat. That’s why it is important people vote,” said CDU activist Florian Graf.
The SPD had been down and out until recently gaining ground and the polls say leader Peer Steinbruck now has a fair chance of returning the Social Democrats to power, although the result is too close to call.
“I speak to all of you who still have a project in and for this country, and who want to end stagnation and bring back movement to Germany. I speak to all of you who want to invest in the future and the coherence of this society. I speak to all of you who say that this country should not only be administered, but politically developed. And I beg for your confidence. Thank you,” he said to a rally in Frankfurt.
The stakes in this election could not be higher, for Germany and for Europe, as the country has a lead role to play in fixing the EU’s economy, but also faces challenges of its own in adapting to the 21st century.