The scene is even more embarrassing as it manages one of the two regions most affected by the disaster, North Rhine-Westphalia. Armin Laschet, the favorite candidate for the succession of the German chancellor Angela Merkel, was forced to apologize on Saturday after being hilariously filmed during a visit to victims of the recent floods in the country.
The one who is also the leader of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), Merkel’s party, for the September 26 legislative elections, was struck with hilarity during a tribute speech by the President of the Republic Franck-Walter Steinmeier. Located behind the head of state, we can see him in the images laughing for almost 30 seconds, with six people accompanying him. The two men were moving to the town of Erftstadt, which was particularly devastated by the floods. At least 165 people, including 141 in Germany, died in Europe in floods of rare magnitude, caused by torrential rains in the west of the continent.
The video, immortalized by local broadcaster WDR, was shared several hundred times on Twitter on Saturday, drawing the ire of Social Democratic politicians, partners of the Conservatives in the coalition government of Angela Merkel, and many Internet users. “I’m just speechless,” Lars Klingbeil, general secretary of the SPD Social Democratic Party, said on Twitter. “A question of character,” observed another SPD official, Kevin Kühnert, cynically. Locals in the region also shared their anger: “I grew up in Erfstadt. The behavior of our (regional) president is unacceptable and unforgivable,” tweeted one of them, Olav Waschkies.
Faced with the controversy, Armin Laschet apologized on Saturday night on Twitter: “I regret the impression that a conversation gave. It was inappropriate and I’m sorry about that,” he said.
This new controversy falls in the middle of the electoral campaign. The conservative CDU party remains at the top of voting intentions for the legislative elections, which are expected to name a successor to Angela Merkel, in power since 2005. The conservatives are at 30%, ahead of Green candidate Annalena Baerbock at 20%, and Olaf Scholz, the SPD (Social Democrat) candidate at 15%, according to a poll published earlier this week by the ZDF channel.
Annalena Baerbock, who was already at the top of voting intentions for two months, herself dropped in the polls after a series of blunders.