Postal voting begins ahead of September elections in Germany
BERLIN, Aug.16 (Reuters) – Postal voting for Germany’s federal elections began on Monday, pressuring Conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet to restart his struggling campaign or lose to a coalition from the left.
An official with the office of the Federal Electoral Commissioner has confirmed that the postal ballots will be sent from Monday, six weeks before the September 26 elections, after which Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to step down after 16 years in office.
Merkel leaves behind a fractured political landscape in which no party enjoys a comfortable lead, and Laschet has seen his ratings drop since he was seen laughing during a visit to a flood-affected town .
Laschet’s woes opened up the possibility that the Social Democrats (SPD) would lead a three-way coalition with the pro-business-friendly Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), although FDP leader Christian Lindner played down such a scenario. . Read more
“A high share of the postal ballots should benefit parties like the Greens, representing affluent and well-educated voters,” said Carsten Nickel of Teneo, a political risk consultancy.
“Postal voting requires some bureaucratic literacy and social capital. It poses huge obstacles for the poorest and least informed groups.”
Pollsters and party strategists expect a third or more of voters to vote by mail in this election as concerns grow over a fourth wave of coronavirus. read more In the last federal election in 2017, a record 28.6% of votes were cast by mail.
“We will have a two-part election campaign,” said pollster Forschungsgruppe Wahlen’s Matthias Jung, as parties seek to mobilize supporters for the postal ballot before trying to attract floating voters ahead of election day.
Older people opt more for postal ballots than younger voters, and Merkel’s conservative alliance tends to do well among older voters, Jung added.
Laschet is aware that he needs to gain momentum quickly as his Tories have lost around 10 points in the polls since the start of the year.
“Our goal now is to become stronger in the coming weeks so that we can lead a future government,” he said on Monday.
The SPD is seeking to maximize the popularity of its chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz, whose polls show voters far prefer his rivals, although this has yet to translate into such strong support for the left-wing party.
Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Alex Richardson
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