German election: Expert analyses threat of ‘fake news’
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German voters are worried they have been fed disinformation about the upcoming election as fake campaign posters smearing political parties which are designed with official logos have been found across towns and cities. Angela Merkel’s CDU and the Green Party have been the worst affected with Green Party representatives blaming the right-wing AfD for the posters. It comes as the German elections are only a few days away where the German electorate will pick who they want representing them from September 26.
DW News reports 82 percent of Germans fear they will be victims of disinformation about the German candidates during the election campaign with over half admitting they have seen politically motivated fake news online.
Election posters from the CDU, SPD, AfD and Greens have been put up across the country but some fake posters which are disguising themselves as official political posters have been documented.
One poster with the CDU logo on it reads: “Everyone is talking about the climate we’re ruining it.”
The realistic-looking poster was put up by Extinction Rebellion who have attacked the CDU’s climate change record.
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Another fake CDU poster sees chancellor candidate Armin Laschet with the quote: “Flood, I can only laugh about it.”
The misquote is in reference to a viral video of Mr Laschet who was seen laughing in the background during a speech on the devastating German floods.
The video caused an outcry in Germany and severely damaged his reputation with the hashtag “Laschetlaughing” trending on German Twitter.
Federal Managing Direction of the CDU, Stefan Hennewig, said: “I personally think [the posters] are even worse because people claim you have said something that you have never done…
“That is a problem in the democratic debate in this election campaign.”
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The issue with the fake Laschet posters is made even worse after local CDU representatives have refused to put up real posters with Mr Laschet’s face on them because he is such an unpopular candidate.
Another poster, this time targetting the Greens, read: “Climate socialism, eco-dictatorship, expropriation terror.”
Konstantin von Notz who is a Green MP said there was an “outrageous accusation” that the AfD were behind this poster.
He said the allegation must be investigated as it would be illegal.
Chancellors in Germany are picked by elected representatives and typically, in Ms Merkel’s case, the dominant party tends to get their candidate appointed.
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Ms Merkel, who was the party leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has been Chancellor since 2005.
The CDU/CSU have controlled the Bundestag since Ms Merkel’s leadership but question marks have been raised for Armin Laschet who took over as CDU party leader earlier this year.
Armin Laschet was voted to be the replacement CDU/CSU party leader back in January, beating the popular Bavarian state minister Markus Soder.
Analysts say Mr Laschet and Ms Merkel are closely politically aligned with his supporters believing he will continue on the work of Ms Merkel once she has left politics.
But Mr Laschet has been criticised for being lesser than Ms Merkel during his public appearances with opponents stating he lacks the character and presence of the experienced German leader.
SPD leader Olaf Scholz who is also the current vice-chancellor has also been tipped to replace Ms Merkel with polls suggesting he is considered a safe pair of hands for the role.
Mr Scholz and Ms Merkel have also been politically close on topics, like she is with Mr Laschet, with some party representatives hoping he can continue the work of Ms Merkel when she leaves.
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