Laschet was discredited on Saturday during a visit to the hard-hit Erftstadt. Footage shows the state prime minister laughing and chatting in the background as President Frank-Walter Steinmeier makes a statement expressing his sympathy for the victims.
This immediately led to strong criticism. Major newspaper Bild wrote online that “Laschet laughs while the country cries.” Politicians were stunned. Lars Klingbeil of the Social Democratic Party SPD, which governs nationwide with Laschet and Merkel’s CDU, called the regional prime minister’s actions “indecent” and “outrageous.”
State Prime Minister Armin Laschet of North Rhine-Westphalia and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier here in conversation with Carolin Weitzel, mayor of Erftstadt.
Possible successor Merkel
Laschet is not only the state prime minister but also the national leader of the Christian-democratic CDU party. According to recent polls, he seems to have a good chance of succeeding his party colleague Merkel as chancellor after the national elections in September. Merkel does not want to return to that role.
The regional prime minister apologized on Twitter on Saturday. The hashtag #Laschetlacht (‘Laschet laughs’) was still a trending topic there on Sunday morning.
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