THE Armin Lassett, the leading candidate in the race for the succession of Chancellor Angela Merkel in the federal parliamentary elections in September in Germany, was forced yesterday Sunday to apologize again becauselaughed as the country’s president spoke of those affected by the deadly floods that swept through parts of West Germany.
Mr Lassett said he was shocked by his conversations and meetings during a tour of the affected areas, adding that he was angry with himself for laughing for a moment – a fact which he slammed.
«I was on the road all day, I had meetings that really shocked me. “And that’s why I’m even more bothered by those few seconds’ of laughter,” Mr Lassett told WDR television last night.
“It was inappropriate, it is not okay to laugh at such a moment”
Through Twitter, he also expressed his regret for the impression he gave, explaining that he laughed during the conversation.
Photos and videos show the Christian Union (CDU / CSU) candidate for chancellor laughing as federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks to the press after a tour of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Armin Lacchetos is prime minister.
Speaking to WDR, Mr. Lassett said he did not listen to what the head of state was saying. “Nevertheless, it was inappropriate, especially at such a time. “I’m upset about this and I’m really sorry because I’m suffering and I’ve talked to a lot of people who are also suffering and I want to apologize wholeheartedly.”
Leaders of other factions continued yesterday the verbal fire against the candidate of the German center-right.
“The way Armin Lassett was talking while the federal president was talking about the flood victims was indecent and scandalous,” Social Democrats (SPD) general secretary Lars Klingbail told Bild am Sonnt.
Although the SPD co-rules with the center-right, it will be counted with the Christian Union in the September 26 elections.
“They say that in times of crisis, your true character is revealed,” Klingbail added, adding that Mr. Lassett had shown in this case that he was “unsuitable” for the position he was seeking.
Michael Torerer, deputy leader of the Free Democrats (FDP) parliamentary group, also attacked Mr Lassett in a statement in Bildt on Sunday: “Smiling without a mask while the president pays tribute to the victims does not show that “You understand the seriousness of the situation,” he said.
As early as Saturday, Mr. Lassett apologized for his behavior, which he admitted was “inappropriate” via Twitter, but the #Laschetlacht (“Lassett laughs”) tag remained at the top of the list of topics addressed by German speakers. users of the social networking site yesterday.
Several German states, as well as parts of neighboring countries, have been hit hard by the worst floods in the recent history of this part of Europe. In Germany, the death toll has risen to more than 160, while in Belgium authorities are talking about another 31 dead. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, visibly moved after her meetings yesterday with flood victims who lost everything, admitted that it was difficult to “find words to describe the disaster”. Many citizens are still missing.
Mr Lassett, who stressed that rebuilding the affected areas would take months, if not “years”, is in the pole position to succeed Mrs Merkel in a few months, at least according to opinion polls. After a difficult start to its campaign, the Conservative faction has now increased its lead over the Greens by almost 10 percentage points. The SPD is in third place; the FDP in fourth.