Armin Laschet, Merkel’s center-right Union bloc candidate to be Germany’s next leader, is also the governor of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, one of the two most affected by last week’s floods. On Saturday, he visited the city of Erfstadt, which was the scene of a dramatic rescue effort after the ground gave way, with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
While Steinmeier gave a statement to reporters after the visit, Laschet and a group of others stayed in the background. The photos showed him turning to another person and laughing.
Lars Klingbeil, the general secretary of the center-left Social Democrats, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that Laschet’s behavior was “ dishonorable and appalling. ”
“ They say that the character of the people shows itself in times of crisis, ” he added.
Laschet took to Twitter Saturday night to explain himself and thank Steinmeier for his visit.
“ The fate of those affected, which we hear about in many conversations, is important to us, ” he wrote. So I regret even more the impression that arose from a conversational situation. That was inappropriate and I’m sorry. ”
The Union bloc currently leads the polls ahead of the Green environmentalists, with the Social Democrats in third place. The election is September 26.