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German Flood Reorganizes Political Image Prior to Elections for Merkel’s Success

Berlin — last week Germany’s catastrophic flood Claiming that nearly 160 people have been killed so far has become a central issue in the upcoming elections, which could reshape the country’s political situation.

Key candidates, and Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who has not run for reelection, Flocked to the worst affected areas, Promises relief and turns to climate change for one of the country’s most deadly disasters since World War II.

International meteorologists warned last weekend that heavy rains could be the cause Serious flood in the disaster area.. The warning was relayed by the German Government’s Meteorological Bureau and the media. However, under the German federal system, local governments were in charge of disaster management and did not order large-scale evacuation.

All necessary warnings were issued by meteorologists, but the warnings did not provoke any reaction on the ground, Hannah Cloak, a professor of hydrology at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, told German public broadcaster ZDF. “It’s incredibly frustrating.”

After causing havoc in western Germany last week Heavy rain moved to the south and east On Sunday, in the country and in neighboring Austria, it inflated the river and overwhelmed some towns and villages in the valley.

Chancellor Angela Merkel visited one of the most devastated communities on Sunday and portrayed the flood as a warning that authorities should continue to fight climate change.

“We need to develop more environmentally friendly policies than in recent years,” he said. Such floods were always happening, she added, but they are becoming more and more frequent now.

Aftermath of the flood in Schuld, western Germany on Sunday.


Photo:

christof stache / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Annalena Baerbock, co-chair of the Greens and chief candidate for the election, suspended her vacation to travel to the flooded areas of Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday and delivered a similar message.

“It’s important for me to be personally informed about the situation without entering the area where acute rescue operations are taking place,” Baerbock told SWR’s public sector broadcasters. She added that more should be done to combat climate change in the coming years.

Scientists say global warming may have played a role in increasing the frequency of bad weather. However, he also states that individual disasters, such as recent floods, are often caused by a variety of factors, from rare weather patterns to terrain and urbanization.

Karl Rudolf Corte, a professor of political science at the University of Duisberg Essen, found that framing events in the context of climate change is more reliable in environmental issues than all other political parties. He said the election could benefit the Greens.

As a result, some scientists were able to make suggestions that regional and federal authorities were unable to respond appropriately to flood warnings. This is an unprecedented argument in the political debate here.

The September 26 election is one of Europe’s hottest elections in recent years. It determines the successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of Europe’s most influential and longest-serving leaders. Bow after 16 years of power..

It is also becoming one of the closest in post-WWII German history. According to Politico polls from 16th July, Merkel’s conservatives are currently 29%, the Green Party is 19%, and the Social Democratic Party is 16%.

Annalena Baerbock of the Greens campaigned in Potsdam last month.


Photo:

Soeren Stache / Zuma Press

Currently, most voters predict that the next coalition will be between the Conservatives and the Greens, but given the slight historical differences in their respective ratings, other more complex combinations. May appear.

Floods have made these calculations even more difficult.

The need to combat climate change is part of Germany’s political consensus, with some parties turning to this issue more recently than the Greens, but all advocating similar policies.

Manfred Güllner, head of the Forsa poll group, said there was no evidence that voters linked floods to climate change. And as an opposition, he said, Greens finds it difficult to fall into the role of crisis management after a disaster.

This is the chairman of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, Prime Minister’s race front runnerOlaf Scholz, the Federal Finance Minister of the Social Democratic Party and a key candidate in the center left, has recently sought to play.

Mr. Rachette, who is also the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the most devastated states in the country, first appeared. However, he was filmed laughing in the background while the Federal President gave a solemn speech about the flood. Mr. Rachette later apologized.

Although his party sincerely embraced the fight against artificial global warming, Mr. Rachette himself supported a subtle approach, emphasizing the need to protect the environment without damaging German industry.

Armin Laschet, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union of Angela Merkel, visited an emergency shelter in Erftstadt on Saturday.


Photo:

Oliver Berg / Zuma Press

When asked if he would change his stance last week, he said, “A day like this shouldn’t change politics.”

Scholz has also jumped into the role of crisis manager. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced € 300 million in emergency aid, or about $ 354 million, and will draft a much larger aid package for the region to be discussed in parliament this week.

Serious floods, which occur relatively frequently in Germany, have a history of affecting federal elections. In 2002, the damaging floods won what then-Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder seemed unlikely to be reelected by driving him into the role of a successful crisis manager. It was widely seen as useful for.

Chancellor Merkel himself said he had to downplay the importance of floods to policy makers and stick to the policies already in place in Germany and Europe.

“No new lessons [from the flood]: We need to tackle climate change … and we have to focus on change, “Merkel said in response to a reporter’s question on Sunday. “Investing in climate protection is expensive, but without it, it’s even more expensive.”

Floods in Europe

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Write to Bojan Pancevski at bojan.pancevski@wsj.com

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German Flood Reorganizes Political Image Prior to Elections for Merkel’s Success

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