German evangelicals urge face-to-face meetings with election candidates

Evangelicals in Germany have urged Christians to talk to candidates and turn out to vote in forthcoming elections expected to return Angela Merkel as the country's Chancellor.

ReutersGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to retain her position following the election later this month.

A guide issued by the German Evangelical Alliance says: 'In a time marred by angry politics and disparagement, we want to bless politicians from all parties and encounter them with grace. We pray for a culture of appreciation and esteem in our country.'

The statement reported by Evangelical Focus says Christians should be proactive in seeking dialogue with candidates before the September 24 election: 'We pray that Christians will take the initiatives to seek direct dialogue with their candidates and encourage others to do the same.' It says that 'party manifestos give an overview of policy, but personal interaction will give an impression of the person, their positions and integrity of the candidate'.

The Alliance's guide suggests questions to ask of candidates that will start conversations about social issues. Among them are, 'What will you do to help change the divisive climate that is to be found at the moment in the federal parliament?' 'How do you see the current and future place of Germany in Europe and the world?' and 'How can the integration of refugees and migrants be successful in our country?'

Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union, has maintained a clear lead over its nearest rival, the Social Democratic Party, whose leader is Martin Schulz. A coalition government – common in German politics – is likely, and Merkel is expected to maintain her position at the head of German – and European – politics.