'We need hope' says German chancellor at EU election campaign kick-off

'We need hope' says German chancellor at EU election campaign kick-off

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ’s centre-left Social Democrats, or SPD, launched their official campaign for the 9 June EU election with a rally in Hamburg, under the mantra "we need hope."

Scholz tried to alleviate 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.

The chancellor reiterated 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 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.

Krah’s party has been polling strongly in Germany in recent months as discontent is high with Scholz’s three-party coalition government. It has long been criticised as having Russia-friendly positions.

However, the AfD's poll ratings have recently gone down compared with what they were before a media report in January about a plan by far-right politicians, including some by the AfD, to deport millions of people of non-German ancestry. The report triggered months of mass protests in the country against the rise of the far-right.

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.