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German election: Political parties kick-off their campaigns ahead of pivotal vote

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By Josephine Joly
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An election campaign poster with the slogan 'For German leading culture' is seen during a rally of far-right AfD party for the launch of the electoral campaign on August 10.
An election campaign poster with the slogan 'For German leading culture' is seen during a rally of far-right AfD party for the launch of the electoral campaign on August 10.   -   Copyright  JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP
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Almost a month before Germany's pivotal general election, political parties are getting out on the campaign trail.

The vote on Sunday, September 26 will determine who will take over from Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is stepping down after 16 years in office.

Tino Chrupalla, the leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, kicked off his movement's campaign by trying to capitalise on its position as a champion of resistance to COVID-19 restrictions.

But AfD is struggling to breakthrough in opinion polls. One in August, which asked voters which party they preferred, saw it come in fifth place with 10% of votes.

The conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) alliance came first with 27%, followed by the Greens (19%). The Social Democrats (SPD) came third with 18% and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in fourth position with 12%.

Greens slip in polls

The Greens were once favourites in the election. But their popularity has slipped since the nomination of Annalena Baerbock, the party’s co-leader, as its candidate for chancellor. Their response to Germany's devastating floods is also thought to be a factor.

Baerbock, accused of plagiarism and of failing to declare some supplementary income, admitted to making errors but denied any wrongdoing.

Her party, as well as her opponents, have said she has been unfairly treated by the media and has been the victim of sexist coverage.

Baerbock, launching her party's campaign, warned electors changes would be needed to get Germany on a greener path.

"We know what we have to do," Baerbock said. "We need to get out of coal, we need to invest in wind power, we need to not only promise wind turbines we need to build them. We need solar panels on the roofs."

Laughing Laschet sees popularity fall

Meanwhile, Armin Laschet, a rival of Baerbock's and CDU/CSU's candidate to succeed Merkel, has also seen his popularity slip.

Laschet was seen laughing in the background of a press conference while the country’s president tried to console victims of the worst floods in living memory. In the four weeks since the floods hit, the CDU’s lead has fallen from a polling average of 29% to 26%.

Watch the full video report in the player above.