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Struggling Laschet attacks rival on economy as German vote looms By Reuters


By Paul Carrel

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s conservative candidate for chancellor scrambled to boost his flagging campaign on Monday, warning voters that a left-wing coalition led by his Social Democrat rival would bring on a “severe economic crisis” after Sunday’s national election.

Armin Laschet ratcheted up his rhetoric after Olaf Scholz of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) won a third televised election debate on Sunday, cementing his position as frontrunner to succeed conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Acknowledging that “we are in a race to catch up”, Laschet seized on Scholz’s statement on Sunday that his preference is for a coalition with the Greens, and the conservative warned voters against a Scholz-led so-called Red-Red-Green ruling alliance with the hard-left Linke.

Laschet said that Red-Red-Green has other ideas regarding economic and financial policy, and that they could lead Germany into severe economic crises if implemented.

Scholz is the finance minister of Merkel’s “grand coalition”. He has distanced himself repeatedly from Linke but hasn’t ruled out a Red-Red/Green alliance. This trio currently rules Berlin.

The election will determine the direction of Europe’s biggest economy, after 16 years under Merkel’s steady and centre-right leadership. After Sunday’s election, she plans to resign.

Laschet’s “steadfastness promise” has not resonated with those who are concerned about climate change and immigration, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. A Monday INSA poll showed that 25% of Bild voters support the SPD, while 22% supported the CDU/CSU.

Saskia, the SPD leader, stated that Scholz has shown voters on Sunday that he was “confident”, competent, and likeable”.

Scholz was summoned Monday to answer questions by a committee of parliamentarians about alleged failings in the anti-money laundering unit, which is part his ministry.

In an investigation into this agency, prosecutors raided the Finance Ministry. Scholz has not been accused of any illegal acts.

Scholz’ raid took place less than three weeks prior to the election, which has fueled speculation that there was a political motive. Laschet stated that these suggestions violated the taboo on respecting the independence and impartiality of raids’ judges.

SPD leader Norbert Walter Borjans, however, accused Laschet’s conservatives in trying to profit from the investigation.

He said, “Because CDU appears to have no content it then looks for ways to scandalise other people.”

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