Germans will head to the polls on Sunday to decide who will replace Angela Merkel after 16 years as German Chancellor. According to polls, the election appears wide-open, with SPD leader Olaf Scholz in the lead by just a few points over CDU leader Armin Laschet. But whoever will be crowned Angela Merkel’s successor will have to deal with her failure to ensure German’s car industry survives competition from China, it has been suggested.
According to Dr Alim Baluch, from the University of Bath, Germany’s economic strength may have just a couple of years more of life.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, the German politics expert said: “Germany might be strong for a couple of years, but in the long run the German economy is doomed, regardless of who will be Chancellor.
“In the long run China will take over the car industry, Germany did not play very well when it comes to electric cars.
“So Germany is the number one in the world when it comes to old school motors. But with regards to more hybrid motors and electric cars, 3D printed car parts, that is all China really is prepared to take over.”
He claimed Germany’s failure to take the Chinese “seriously” so far will have consequences.
Dr Baluch said: “Germany used to laugh at Chinese cars and now you get these really high quality products.
“Germany has missed the bus on many issues like renewable energy and, unfortunately, also cars.”
At stake in the election is the future course of Europe’s largest economy after 16 years of steady, centre-right leadership under Merkel.
Mr Laschet ratcheted up his rhetoric after Olaf Scholz of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) won a third televised election debate on Sunday, cementing his position as frontrunner to succeed Merkel.
Acknowledging that “we are in a race to catch up”, Laschet seized on Scholz’s statement on Sunday that his preference is for a coalition with the Greens, and the conservative warned voters against a Scholz-led so-called Red-Red-Green ruling alliance with the hard-left Linke.
READ MORE: Germany election polls: Who will replace Merkel? Debate winner reveal
An INSA poll for Bild on Monday put the SPD at 25 percent support, with the CDU/CSU conservative bloc at 22 percent.
SPD co-leader Saskia Esken said Scholz had shown voters on Sunday he was a “confident, competent, likeable” candidate.
Scholz appeared on Monday before a parliamentary finance committee to face questions over suspected failings at the government anti-money laundering agency, a unit of his ministry.
Prosecutors raided the finance ministry this month as part of an investigation into the agency. Scholz is not accused of doing anything wrong legally.
The timing of the raid – less than three weeks before the election – has fuelled speculation about a political motivation.
Laschet said such suggestions broke a taboo about respecting the independence of the judges who ordered the raids.
But SPD co-leader Norbert Walter-Borjans accused Laschet’s conservatives of trying to exploit the investigation.
“Because the CDU apparently has no content, it then looks at how to scandalise others,” he said.