In Lower Saxony, the two major parties have positioned themselves for the upcoming state elections on October 9th.
The SPD elected Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) in Hildesheim with 100 percent of the votes as the top candidate.
The 63-year-old lawyer has ruled in Hanover since 2013. In polls, Weil's SPD state association has so far been ahead of the CDU of Economics Minister Bernd Althusmann, who sees himself on the upswing thanks to the successes in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Political correspondent for Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen based in Hanover.
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The SPD has identified inflation concerns as one reason for the defeats.
In Hildesheim, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) referred to the agreed relief of 30 billion euros, which the citizens would soon notice.
The Lower Saxony SPD, however, calls for further steps.
Weil said the issue was "highly sensitive" and the planned reliefs were insufficient.
The "high point of the inflation wave" is just around the corner, and it is "the task of the SPD to look very closely to see whether the burdens are distributed correctly".
Many pensioners are "on the battlefield" because no energy money is provided for them.
"I think the question is justified," said Weil, also referring to the situation of students.
Weil said he was "in very nice talks with our federal government" and would "fight hard" for more government aid.
Head-to-head race with the CDU?
Another defining topic in Hildesheim was the war in Ukraine.
The chancellor used his appearance to explain his course of "prudence" again.
Weil said there was a "large social majority" for Scholz's cautious course.
He indirectly criticized demands from the CDU, FDP and Greens for more arms deliveries to Ukraine: "Just imagine for a second that the Chancellor's name was Friedrich Merz and his Defense Minister Toni Hofreiter - you wouldn't sleep because of worry! "
With a view to his pro-Russia stance in recent years, Weil said that he himself, like the entire SPD, had underestimated Putin's aggressiveness.
That is a "justified criticism".
However, each party should sweep their own front door;
the current "double standards and hypocrisy" of other parties is "intolerable".
The announced withdrawal of Gerhard Schröder from the supervisory board of the Russian energy company Rosneft was not an issue in the speeches by Scholz and Weil.
However, when asked, the Federal Chancellor said that he "takes note of" Schröder's decision, but that further steps must follow.
Weil said Schröder's withdrawal was correct, but came too late.
Stephan Weil's speech revealed his election campaign strategy: The SPD is primarily promoting itself with social projects, which include the establishment of a state housing association, tablets for all schoolchildren and a continued decentralized hospital landscape.
The focus of the election campaign will be Weil, who has high approval ratings, as well as the established ministers Olaf Lies (Environment/Energy) and Boris Pistorius (Interior).
In addition, Weil also relies on his new Minister of Health, Daniela Behrens, whom he described as the "shooting star" of Lower Saxony politics.
The CDU top candidate Althusmann described the SPD as "used up" at the weekend.
He assumes a "head-to-head race" for October 9th.
At its meeting in Bad Nenndorf, the CDU in Lower Saxony decided for the first time on a list made up of men and women in a zippered format.
Four young and rather inexperienced female politicians occupy the first ten places, while established men in state politics have to rank further behind.Keywords: