Leading up to the Federal election in Germany this fall, the campaigns between the two major parties SPD (Social Democratic Party) and CDU (Christ Democratic Union) are in full swing. On state level, the SPD is under a lot of pressure, and has to struggle with a decline of image.
On Friday, member of the Lower Saxon parliament Elke Twesten from the Green party announced, that she will switch to the CDU, because she does not see herself having a future with the Green party. Usually, this would not have been a major deal, but in Lower Saxony this will have a massive influence on the parliament. The government, led by the Social Democrats and the Green party only had a one seat majority with 69 seats, against the opposition by CDU and FDP (Liberal Party) with 68 seats. With the switch of party, the governing coalition does not have the majority anymore, and prime minister Stephan Weil (SPD) needs to call for re-elections. According to information by Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, the election will not be held on the same day with the Federal election, as it was planned originally, but rather in October or November.
After this setback in the election campaign, there was a second issue that became public on Sunday. Prime minister Stephan Weil is accused, that during the Volkswagen diesel scandal in October 2015, he let government statements and declarations rewrite by Volkswagen, with the purpose of playing down the matter. The VW group is located in Lower Saxony, and thus is an important employer for the region and the state. The state Lower Saxony is even the second biggest individual shareholder of Volkswagen with 20%, and the prime minister is on Supervisory Board. Because of that, political decisions and measures against Volkswagen would heart the VW group, the state economy, but also the prime minister. Weil has rejected the accusations, the only changes he made, were due to legal or factually issues, but he did not alter the meaning of the statements. Weil has full support of Foreign minister and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in that matter, on the other side there is secretary general Andreas of CSU (the Union partner of the CDU) Scheuer who demands Weil’s resignation.
Of course, this affair has become a matter for the Federal election campaign, and the CDU could gain a lot approval. With Elke Twesten changing to the conservatives, the SPD and especially candidate Martin Schulz could have benefited a lot in the election campaign. It is not clear, if the CDU had tempted Twesten to switch sides, and because of that fact that there may have been some unfair practices, the Social Democrats could have capitalized on that. But now with the repeated appearance of the diesel scandal during the campaign, the negative image might now stick to party on a federal level, and thus help the CDU win on September 24.
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