EU election campaigns kick off in Germany, the Ukraine war, rise of far right are dominant themes

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a Citizens’ Dialogue organized by the Lüneburg SPD to kick off his party’s European election campaign, in Luneburg, Germany on April 27. (AP)

BERLIN, April 28, (AP): Several German parties on Saturday kicked off their campaigns for the election of the European Parliament in June with a focus on issues such as the war in Ukraine and support by many European voters for far-right nationalist parties across the continent.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ’s center-left Social Democrats, or SPD, launched their official campaign for the June 9 EU election with a rally in Hamburg, Scholz’s longtime home city.
Responding to many German voters’ fears their country could be drawn into Ukraine’s war with Russia if it’s too proactive in its military support for the eastern European country, Scholz tried to alleviate such concerns.
The chancellor reiterated that Germany would continue to stand by Ukraine’s side under his leadership as the second-largest arms supplier after the US, but would avoid a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia.
“To those who are worried, who are afraid, I say: you can rest assured that no matter how the debates go, the German Chancellor, the government I lead, will not abandon the course of prudence, the course of balanced action and ensuring peace and security in Europe,” he said, according to German news agency dpa.
“Peace” is one of the central terms on the SPD’s election posters, on which Scholz and European election top candidate Katarina Barley can be seen together.
The European Parliament is the only publicly elected body in the European Union. The EU was created after World War II to foster peace, and now has 450 million people and the world’s second-largest economy. Far-right parties and their discourse are expected to weigh heavily on election campaigning.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, officially kicked off its campaign for the elections at an event in the southwestern town of Donaueschingen. The party’s top candidate in the elections, Maximilian Krah, canceled plans to speak after an assistant was arrested on suspicion of spying for China earlier this week.

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