Armin Laschet came to regret laughing at a witty comment even before his party was defeated at the polls

A clip of Angela Merkel’s ‘successor’ Armin Laschet laughing amid a briefing on deadly flooding in Germany has been credited with him losing a lot of support ahead of the vote. Now the media is saying they know what the joke was.

Laschet, who was trusted to lead Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) into this year’s federal parliamentary election, was filmed enjoying what looked like a good laugh when touring Erftstadt, one of many small German towns devastated by severe flooding, in July.

The clip, which immediately went viral, was particularly ill-received because Laschet had been caught laughing just as German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was delivering a speech mentioning the damage and the victims.

Following the backlash, Laschet apologized for acting “inappropriately,” and has since publicly regretted failing to restrain himself. Months later, the CDU suffered a historic defeat in the September election, and was left out of the government coalition.

Merkel’s potential successor Laschet apologizes after LAUGHING during German president’s speech about deadly floods

However, the joke itself apparently remained a mystery, until New Year’s Eve. According to the German news agency RND, it wasn’t at all related to the flooding disaster.

Laschet was having a banter with local party official Frank Rock, reportedly noting that Rock had introduced the president simply as “Mister Steinmeier,” instead of “Mister Federal President.” Rock parried with a witticism of his own.

According to RND, he lightheartedly told Laschet how he was surprised that Steinmeier was “as short as you” – a comment that prompted more laugher from Laschet.

It isn’t entirely clear what impact the laughing scandal had on Laschet’s performance at the polls, as opposed to the CDU’s and Merkel’s prior policies but, in its report, the outlet called it “the turning point in the election campaign.”

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