Berlin | German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s favorite candidate Armin Laschett has apologized after being filmed cheering during a visit to flood victims in Germany on Saturday.
The controversy is all the more significant as dozens of people have died in North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the two worst-hit areas west of the country.
The leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU) for the September 26 legislative elections, Mrs. Merkel, cheered in a tribute speech made by the party and Republican President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Behind the head of state he appears in the smiling footage for almost 30 seconds, accompanied by six people.
The two men had gathered in the town of Erfurtstad, which was particularly devastated by the floods.
“Outrageous”, “Disgusting”: Immortalized by local television channel WDR, the video was shared hundreds of times on Twitter on Saturday, provoking the wrath of social democratic politicians, conservative partners in Ms Merkel’s coalition government, and many Internet users.
“I’m just speechless,” Social Democratic Party SPD general secretary Lars Klingbeel said on Twitter.
“Question of character”, another SPD officer, sarcastically launched Kevin Kohnert.
Michael Thierry, a Liberal Party FDP (Opposition) official, said Armin Laschett “did not attend the event” and “paid tribute to the head of state’s victims.”
Armin Laschett, who faced the controversy, apologized on Twitter on Saturday evening: “I regret the feedback given by the conversation. It’s inappropriate and I’m sorry about that, ”he said.
Residents of the area also shared their anger: “I grew up in Erfstadt (…) The behavior of our president (of the region, the editor’s note) was unacceptable and unforgivable,” one of them, Olav Washkies, tweeted.
Candidate in bad weather is not his first “bad sensation”: on Thursday, he provoked incomprehensible feeling after questioning a journalist using the term “young woman” on the regional channel WDR. A term that many Internet users consider patriarchal and sexist.
The new controversy comes in the middle of the election campaign.
The Conservative CDU party is still at the forefront of voting for the legislative elections, which will be named after Angela Merkel’s successor, who has been in power since 2005.
Conservatives are 30%, Greens 20%, Annalena Berbach 20%, and Olaf Scholz, SPD (Social Democrat) candidate 15%, according to a poll published by the JDS channel earlier this week.
MS Barbach, who topped the voting motives two months ago, subsequently fell in the election after a series of mistakes.
At least 165 people have died in rare floods in Europe, including 141 in Germany due to torrential rains in the western part of the continent.