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Merkel, Schulz Conclude Electoral Campaign, Polling Stations Open Today - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English
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Merkel, Schulz Conclude Electoral Campaign, Polling Stations Open Today

Merkel

Berlin- German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged her supporters to keep up the momentum in the final hours before Sunday’s national election, urging a last push to try to sway undecided voters.

Merkel is seeking a fourth term in office and her conservative bloc of the Christian Democratic Party and Bavarian-only Christian Social union has a healthy lead in the polls.

Merkel told supporters in Berlin that they needed to keep up their efforts to sway undecided voters, saying “many make their decision in the final hours.”

She also campaigned in the northern city of Greifswald and planned a stop as well on the island of Ruegen in the Baltic, where the Islamophobic Alternative for Germany topped her party’s score in state elections last year.

Her main challenger, Social Democrat Martin Schulz, was in western Germany at a rally in the city of Aachen.

Although Merkel’s party enjoys a double-digit lead over the second place SPD, an alarm is growing among mainstream parties as the latest polls show support for the hard-right AfD rising in the final campaigning stretch to between 11 and 13 percent.

That means that around 60 lawmakers of the openly anti-immigration party could sit in the German parliament for the first time since World War II, a prospect prompting established parties to urge voters to shun the upstarts.

At Merkel’s final major stump speech on Friday evening at the southern city of Munich, dissenters blew whistles and vuvuzelas and chanted “get lost”, seeking to drown her out.

But the 63-year-old refused to be derailed from her stability-and-prosperity stump speech, telling the crowd that “the future of Germany will definitely not be built up through whistles and hollers.”

Merkel, whose rallies across Germany had been plagued by organized AfD supporters, also called people to go out and “vote for the parties that are 100 percent loyal to our constitution”.

In an appeal for voters to close ranks and keep the AfD out, Schulz told a rally in central Berlin that “this Alternative for Germany is no alternative. They are a shame for our nation.”

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, also a Social Democrat, said the party is led by “people who incite hate, who spread Nazi propaganda”.

“For the first time since the end of the Second World War, real Nazis will sit in the German parliament,” said Gabriel.

While Merkel has been pushing her stability and prosperity agenda and Schulz seeking to sway voters with his pledges for greater social equality, the AfD has diverted attention.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung columnist Heribert Prantl praised the chancellor for not only pressing on with her rallies despite protests from AfD supporters but also giving a clear rebuttal to the populists.

But the columnist regretted that it only came late in the campaign when it became “clear how the political climate in Germany will change with the AfD in the Bundestag.”

For his part, One of two AfD leading candidates, Alexander Gauland, had called for Germans to stop atoning for the war past.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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