Floods make climate central to German election campaigns

Only more than two months before polling day, the devastating floods that swept through western Germany this week pushed climate change to the heart of the German election campaign.

Most political parties in Germany believe that global warming is responsible for the disaster that caused 103 deaths and destroyed towns and villages in the country’s two most populous states.

This may prove that the Green Party has benefited a lot. They had made huge progress in the September polls even before this week. Their strongest lawsuit—focusing on climate change and mobilizing the resources of all nations to prevent it—suddenly gained a great new sense of urgency.

So far, they have deliberately avoided saying “Tell you”. The party’s co-leader Robert Habek did not visit the flood-affected areas. He told the German magazine Der Spiegel that “in this case, politicians will only stand in the way”.

“It is forbidden to conduct real election campaigns on days like today,” he said on Thursday, when the full scope of the damage appeared.

Flood in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler: Most German political parties believe that global warming is the culprit © Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

But it is clear that the new attention to the danger of abnormal weather events and its link to global warming may have an important boost for the Green Party’s prime minister candidate Annalena Belbok. They can also distract attention from the mistakes that have plagued her so far.

The 40-year-old congressman recently got into trouble due to inaccurate resumes, suspected plagiarism of a book she published last month, and delays in reporting extra party income to Parliament.

“She can definitely score now [Greens’] “Environmental and climate issues,” Karl Rudolf Coulter, a political scientist at the University of Duisburg-Essen, told German television. “It gave her one. A new way to mobilize voters. “

Government spokesman Martina Fietz made it clear that the authorities regard climate change as the main cause of flooding. “In principle, global warming has led to an increase in so-called extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rains and storms,” ​​she said. She said that in Germany, the average temperature has risen by two degrees since the record.

On the other hand, for Armin Laschet, a prime ministerial candidate from the center-right CDU/CSU, the new focus on climate can be tricky. As the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, where some of Germany’s largest companies are located, he strongly opposes parts of the green agenda, saying they may jeopardize the country’s status as an industrial power.

Prime Minister Candidate Armin Laschet from the center-right CDU/CSU opposes some green agenda © Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty

On Thursday, when a TV interviewer asked him if Germany now needs to take more aggressive action to curb the climate crisis, he was caught off guard and lost patience with her. “Sorry, miss, you won’t change your policy because of a day like today,” he said.

However, even he insisted that Germany must now speed up the pace of combating climate change. “We must embark on the road of carbon neutrality faster,” he said on Friday.

Laschet was also able to score important points in his two rivals Baerbock and Olaf Scholz (treasury minister and Social Democratic prime minister candidate). When the flood hit, they were on vacation: he didn’t, and he quickly went to some of the worst-hit areas.

Rashet promised to provide compensation to the homeless, sympathizes with the victims and their families, and thanks the emergency services department. His speech seems to indicate that he is an effective crisis manager and “Landswat “, or the father of the nation.

Korte said Laschet could benefit politically from the new insecurities brought about by the flood. “We will have to look forward to new crises,” he said. “We will most trust those people or parties who have the best ideas to protect us from what might happen.” This may be beneficial to rule over the past 70 years. Germany’s 50-year CDU/CSU has harmed Belbok, who has no government experience.

The rubble after the torrential rain in Schulder. © Wolfgang Rate/Reuters

If the flood eventually has an impact on the German election campaign, this will not be the first time. Experts said that the severe flooding of the Elbe in August 2002 affected the election results that year and ensured the victory of the Social Democratic Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder.

He rushed to the scene, put on rubber boots, wade through the mud, and later promised to provide a lot of assistance to the hardest-hit areas. In contrast, his competitor, CDU/CSU candidate Edmund Stoiber, did not interrupt his holiday on Juist Island in the North Sea and ultimately lost.

“I don’t want to campaign in this natural disaster,” Stoiber said later-even though he eventually went to the flooded area.

In recent years, the weather has also affected politics. Germany experienced a long dry period in 2018. There was little rain, and the fields and forests turned brown under the scorching sun, which increased the popularity of the Green Party and inspired their continuous rise in opinion polls: By November 2018, they The approval rate of the country was 22%, and the increase started from 8.9% in the 2017 Bundestag election.

Then in May 2019, they received a 20.5% approval rate in the European Parliament elections-their best national result to date.

Although no one wants to escape the crisis, there will be some in the Green Party who privately hope that the impact of the 2018 heat wave will find an echo after the 2021 summer floods.

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