Indian-origin Ashok Sridharan leads in mayoral polls in Bonn
An Indian-origin candidate of German Chancellor Angela Merkel-led Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is the favourite in today's mayoral election in the city of Bonn, according to latest opinion polls.
Bonn: An Indian-origin candidate of German Chancellor Angela Merkel-led Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is the favourite in today's mayoral election in the city of Bonn, according to latest opinion polls.
Ashok Sridharan's two main rivals are lagging behind him in opinion polls, however, the final outcome depended on how the large number of undecided voters would cast their votes, poll analysts said on the eve of the election.
Around 26 per cent of the city's 245,000 voters are still undecided, according to opinion polls conducted a week before the election.
If there is a higher turn out today than in the last election in 2009, it could benefit 49-year-old Sridharan, analysts said.
If elected, Sridharan will become the first Indian-origin mayor of a major German city.
He is seeking mandate to wrest control of the former German capital from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which has ruled the city for more than 20 years.
His election chances were given a boost by the decision of the liberal Free Democratic Party not to field its own candidate and to support Sridharan.
Sridharan, who is the son of a migrant from India and a German mother, currently serves as the treasurer and deputy mayor in the neighbouring town of Koenigswinter.
He conducted an intensive election campaign during the past months and focused his efforts to mobilise support through direct contacts with the voters all over the city.
He wound up his campaign at the weekend by participating in podium discussions and by meeting the voters.
Media commentators described him as an excellent "networking specialist" and expressed the view that this will give him a great advantage over his two main rivals Peter Ruhenstroth-Bauer of the SPD and Tom Schmidt of the Green party.
Germany's "willkommenskultur," which was demonstrated by hundreds of people when they welcomed migrants arriving in this country with applause, may work in his advantage, according to the analysts.
During his campaign, Sridharan presented himself as a candidate who stands for closer integration of migrants into the mainstream of the society.
He also tried to convince the voters that his experience in different areas of municipal administration made him more suitable for the city's highest office than his rivals.
He has been emphasising that he wanted to use his experience to tackle some of the problems facing Bonn such as its debts amounting to more than 1.7 billion euros.
If today's election produces no clear winner, a runoff election has been scheduled for September 27.