The German election has been postponed after the recent flooding that hit the country. Angela Merkel’s party is leading in polls, but she will be stepping down as chancellor and her successor will likely come from the Social Democrats.
The south germany flood is an event that has the potential to change the political landscape in Germany.
BERLIN— Germany’s catastrophic floods, which have claimed almost 160 lives so far, have become the primary topic of the country’s next election, which may alter its political landscape.
The main candidates, as well as outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, have rushed to the worst-affected regions, offering assistance and blaming climate change for one of the country’s worst catastrophes since World War II.
Last weekend, international meteorologists warned that heavy rains may bring catastrophic floods in the vulnerable areas. The German government’s meteorological agency and the media both issued the warning. Local authorities are in charge of emergency management in Germany’s federal system, but they did not order large-scale evacuations.
Meteorologists provided the required warnings, but the notice had little effect on the ground, according to Hannah Cloke, a professor of hydrology at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, who spoke to the German public broadcaster ZDF. “It’s very frustrating.”
After causing devastation in western Germany last week, torrential rains proceeded to the country’s southern and eastern regions, as well as neighboring Austria, on Sunday, swollen rivers and flooding numerous valley towns and villages.
Ms. Merkel, who visited one of the worst-affected areas on Sunday, used the flood as a reminder to authorities to keep fighting climate change.
“Policies that take the environment into consideration more than they have in previous years will be necessary,” she added. She went on to say that such floods have always happened, but that they are now becoming more often.
On Sunday, floods in Schuld, western Germany, left a trail of destruction.
Getty Images/Christof Stache/Agence France-Presse
On Friday, Annalena Baerbock, the Green Party’s co-chair and leading election candidate, took time out of her vacation to visit flooded regions in Rhineland-Palatinate and give a similar message.
“It is essential to me to be intimately informed about the situation there—without traveling into regions where severe rescue operations are ongoing,” Ms. Baerbock told the public-sector broadcaster SWR. She went on to say that in the next years, much more should be done to combat climate change.
According to scientists, global warming may have contributed to the increased frequency of extreme weather occurrences. Individual catastrophes, such as the recent floods, they argue, are often triggered by a variety of variables ranging from unusual weather patterns to geography and development.
According to Karl-Rudolf Korte, a political science professor at Duisburg-Essen University, putting the incident in the context of climate change may help the Green Party win the election since polls indicated they had greater environmental credibility than the other parties.
Some experts have suggested that regional and federal authorities failed to respond properly to flood warnings, a viewpoint that has so far been missing from the political discussion in this country.
The European election on September 26 is one of the most keenly followed in recent years. It will determine who will replace Angela Merkel, one of Europe’s most powerful and longest-serving leaders, who is stepping down after 16 years in office.
It’s also turning up to be one of the most closely contested elections in Germany’s postwar history. According to Politico’s survey of polls from July 16, Ms. Merkel’s conservatives are currently polling at 29%, the Greens at 19%, and the Social Democrats at 16%.
Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party campaigned in Potsdam last month.
Soeren Stache/Zuma Press photo
Given the historically tiny gap in the parties’ respective ratings, most pollsters presently anticipate that the next coalition will be between the conservatives and the Greens, but other, more complex combinations may arise.
These computations have become much more difficult to do as a result of the floods.
The need to combat climate change is part of Germany’s political mainstream, and although some parties have converted to the subject more recently than the Greens, all advocate comparable measures.
There was no indication that voters connected the flood to climate change, according to Manfred Güllner, the director of the Forsa polling company. And, as an opposition party, the Greens are having trouble slipping into a crisis-management role in the aftermath of the catastrophe, he said.
In recent days, Armin Laschet, the chairman of Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and the front-runner in the contest for the chancellery, and Olaf Scholz, the federal finance minister and top candidate for the center-left Social Democrats, have attempted to play this role.
Mr. Laschet, who is also the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the worst-affected states in the nation, was the first to arrive. However, he was caught on camera laughing in the background as the president of the United States delivered a solemn address on the flood. Mr. Laschet subsequently expressed regret.
His party has embraced the battle against man-made global warming fully, but Mr. Laschet has advocated for a more balanced approach, emphasizing the need to preserve the environment without jeopardizing German economy.
On Saturday, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union’s chairman, Armin Laschet, paid a visit to an emergency shelter in Erftstadt.
Oliver Berg/Zuma Press/Zuma Press/Zuma Press/Zuma Press/Zum
When asked last week whether he would alter his mind, he replied, “We should not change our views just because we have a day like today.”
Mr. Scholz has also stepped up to the plate as a crisis manager. Ms. Merkel’s finance minister has pledged 300 million euros ($354 million) in immediate assistance and is working on a far bigger aid package for the area, which will be debated in parliament this week.
Severe floods, which occur often in Germany, have a history of swaying federal elections. In 2002, devastating floods were generally credited for helping Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor at the time, achieve an improbable re-election by pushing him into the position of effective crisis management.
Ms. Merkel downplayed the flood’s importance for policymakers, saying that they just had to stick to the measures that were already in place in Germany and Europe.
In answer to a reporter’s inquiry on Sunday, Ms. Merkel said, “There are no new lessons [from the flood]: We must confront climate change…and we must concentrate on transformation.” “It is costly to invest in climate protection, but it would be much more costly not to invest.”
Europe is flooded.
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Bojan Pancevski can be reached at [email protected]
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The germany austria floods is a natural disaster that has had a huge impact on the political landscape of Germany. It has rearranged the current political picture ahead of an election to succeed Angela Merkel.
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