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26.03.2021, 10:40

Confidence in Merkel’s leadership falters as Germany’s pandemic drags

CNBC reports that a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic has heaped more political problems onto Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ruling CDU party as the country edges closer to federal elections later this year.

Germany was initially widely praised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A year on, and the situation is very different, with Europe’s biggest economy confronting a third wave of infections, a rising death toll and accusations of health crisis mismanagement aimed at the government.

On Wednesday, Merkel made waves by reversing a plan to lockdown the country over the Easter break saying she had made a “mistake.” This came after criticism from health experts and business leaders, who said the proposal could cause more harm than good.

Merkel’s CDU party has already fared poorly in recent state elections, signaling that it could be punished again later in the year by voters erring toward the center-left Social Democrats and particularly, the environmentalist Greens, whose support has risen markedly.

“Confusing policy shifts and slow vaccination progress have now undermined public confidence in the ability of the CDU/CSU, which has led the government for most of post-war history including the past 15 years, to steer Germany through the crisis,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, commented in a note

Schmieding noted that a kickback scandal involving CDU-CSU members of Parliament had resonated with the public, with polls showing a fall in support for the CDU-CSU back to pre-pandemic levels.

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