Merkel’s party set for heavy defeat in elections amid ‘shabby and shameful’ mask scandal

Angela Merkel: Political expert discusses approval rating

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Many Germans are unhappy about their Government’s slow rollout of the Covid vaccine programme, and the extent of their dissatisfaction will be laid bare in two states on Sunday. Voters in Baden-Württemberg, a historic CDU stronghold, and Rhineland-Palatinate will head to the polls this weekend.

European Union member states are trailing the UK on the vaccine front and Germany is behind multiple nations in the bloc.

On Saturday German health experts warned against any further easing of coronavirus lockdown measures as the number of cases jumped again.

The surged raised the possibility that infections could again reach peaks seen around Christmas by mid-April.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases predicted that the number of daily reported cases could exceed 30,000 in the 14th week of the year starting April 12.

Voters in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg are on track flip the CDU stronghold in favour of the Green Party.

The Greens have opened up a 10-point lead in the state.

While the race is looking tighter in Rhineland-Palatinate, the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPD) is two to three points ahead, according to voter intention polls.

The possibility of kicking off an important election year with two stinging defeats is said to have panicked party members at the CDU headquarters in Berlin.

This weekend’s elections are seen as a bellwether for the national poll in the autumn.

In September Germans will elect the country’s next chancellor when Mrs Merkel steps down.

Her party has not yet selected a candidate to put forward.

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CDU party leader Armin Laschet is seen as the most likely person to be chosen, but some people at the top of the party are having doubts.

As leader of the party, Mr Laschet will have the final say over who is the group’s chancellor candidate.

However, the party’s mask procurement scandal is likely to damage his prospects.

The debacle resulted in the resignation of three CDU lawmakers alleged to have enriched themselves during the Covid pandemic.

On Friday German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier reprimanded the politicians involved in the scandal.

He said they were guilty of “shabby and shameful” behaviour, in a rebuke likely to shake the CDU.

Last night all 240 conservative lawmakers submitted in writing their declarations on whether they had profited from the Covid pandemic.

Lawmakers from the CDU were instructed to submit notes saying they had not received money for consulting or procurement activities tied the public health crisis.

Georg Nüsslein, one of the CDU lawmakers who quit over the scandal, was placed under investigation in February for corruption following allegations that he had accepted some €600,000 (£515,225) to lobby for a mask supplier.

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