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Frontrunner for next German chancellor got caught laughing

Frontrunner for next German chancellor got caught laughing

Posted July. 19, 2021 07:28,   

Updated July. 19, 2021 07:28


A promising candidate for the next German chancellor apologized for joking and laughing during a visit to a town hit by the worst flood in history that killed over 150. Mournful residents of the town criticized politicians for making hollow visits and called them “disgusting.”  

According to AFT on Saturday, Armin Laschet, leader of Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU) and premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, visited Erftstadt devastated by flooding on that day. He is the front runner in the race to succeed Angela Merkel when her term ends in September.  

He chatted with others in the background for some 20 seconds while German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave a speech expressing sympathy for flood victims. He made jokes and burst into a laugh, which was broadcasted on the public television and sparked fury.  

“Laschet laughs while the country cries,” the Bild daily criticized. “This is all apparently a big joke to (Laschet),” a member of the opposition party said. “How could he be a chancellor?” the secretary general of the centre-left Social Democrats, who govern together with Merkel and Laschet’s said, “I’m speechless.” When the criticism became fiercer, Laschet tweeted, “It was inappropriate. I apologize for my behavior.”

Heavy rain that hit the west Europe from Wednesday killed at least 183, 156 in Germany and 27 in Belgium. The death toll is expected to increase as hundreds of people are out of contact or missing.

Eun-Taek Lee nabi@donga.com