All you need to know about the German national election

BERLIN – The Germans will vote for a new government on Sunday and for the first time since 2005, Angela Merkel is not running. After nearly 16 years in power, Mrs Merkel, 67, will hand over control of Europe’s largest economy to the new chancellor.

The race for the chancellor is wide open, and in the wake of Brexit and the election of President Biden in the United States, the world will be watching where the Germans take their country.

Bringing Germany out of the coronavirus epidemic, focusing on reviving the economy, is the most pressing issue on the domestic front. Climate policy, which has become more urgent after the recent floods, and the greening of the country’s industrial sector are also on the minds of voters. And digitization and ensuring social equality and security have also taken place in the debate.

Whoever takes power will decide how much to build on Mrs. Merkel’s policies and how much to take the country in a new direction. If his Conservative party is in power, the Social Democrats are more likely to have more consistency than a return to power, or environmentalist Greens making history and taking the chancellor for the first time.

On the foreign policy front, both the Conservatives and the Social Democrats will seek continuity regarding Germany’s growing trade with China and its position on Russia. This includes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was completed in early September. Bypassing Ukraine and other Eastern European countries, German authorities have four months to approve the pipeline before starting direct gas transport from Russia directly to Germany. The Greens are against the pipeline.

All political parties except Germany agree that Germany is a strong member of the European Union. The Greens are pushing for a more ambitious revival of the European project, taking drastic action against Hungary and other members that have failed to uphold democratic principles.

Over the years, Germany’s attitude toward China has “changed through trade”, but the suppression of discontent at home in China and its muscle bending abroad have called into question this strategy. The United States has pressured reluctant allies to take a tougher stance on China, but is reluctant to distribute Germany under Mrs. Merkel, and this cannot be expected to change under her party or the Social Democrats-led government.

Despite the recent turmoil in Afghanistan, the anti-immigrant AFD has so far failed to capitalize on the fears surrounding immigration, as it did four years ago, when it won a seat in the German parliament Bundestag for the first time. The party received about 11 percent of the vote, and analysts say it has been weakened by deep internal divisions and a lack of galvanizing issues.

Polls indicate that, as usual, no party will win a majority in parliament, so whoever wins the most seats will be given the first crack in forming a coalition government and electing a chancellor.

Before the start of the campaign, each party announces its candidate for chancellor, although the public’s attention is focused on the candidates for key leaders who have a realistic chance of winning.

Traditionally, they were center-right Christian Democrats (Mrs. Merkel’s party) and center-left Social Democrats. But for the first time, the environmentalist Greens candidate was seen as the real shot at the Chancellery.

Here are the top optimists for the Chancellor:

Greens: Since 2001, Greens co-leader Analina Bearback has been seen as more pragmatic than most of her party, which has its roots in the environmental and student protests of the previous century. At the age of 40, she is the youngest candidate, the only woman and the only one who has not come to office before.

After a strong start, Mrs. Bareback’s popularity has been damaged by scandals surrounding a book she published and errors in her resume.

Social Democrats: Olaf Schulz, Germany’s finance minister and vice-chancellor of the Social Democrats, has been considered the most experienced of the three since 201 Democrats, and has seen his popularity rise in recent weeks. He Hamburg has many years of experience at the state level and has served as Labor Minister in the previous government under Mrs Merkel. Since the end of August, Mr. By capitalizing on his proximity to the Chancellor, Schulz convinced voters that despite their diverse parties, he was the choice for the steady hand that the Germans had. His party did worse than expected from opinion polls, which saw them at gaining about a third of the seats.

Other parties vying for seats in parliament are the Left, AFD and the free-market Free Democrats, who hope to play a role in the government coalition in the future. Dozens of smaller parties, ranging from the anarchist Pogo Party to the Animal Protection Party and free voters, are also on the ballot, but are unlikely to cross the 5 per cent barrier needed to gain representation in the Bundestag.

Within the European Union, Germany is often seen as the de facto leader. It has both the largest economy and the largest population and is widely seen as a motor for policy and decision making together with France.

Under Mrs. Merkel, who became one of the most senior leaders in the two-member bloc, the influence has grown, although she has failed to win the refugee policy and the sense of belonging among member countries to prevent Hungary and Poland from democratically retreating.

Mrs Merkel uses her country’s weight as a member of the group of the world’s fourth-largest economy and industrialized nations to champion global climate policy and impose tough sanctions on Russia for occupying Crimea. His successor will inherit the tense issue of how to deal with a push between the increasingly powerful China and Germany and those in the EU who are ready to resume trade with Moscow. After four volatile years in the Trump administration, the original relationship with the United States is beginning to find its footing again.

During Mrs. Merkel’s four terms in power, 3 million nations have gone through a generational change, becoming more ethnically diverse, but the age has also been enough – more than half of all eligible voters are 50 or older. Social norms have become more liberal, gay marriage legal rights and official documents have a non-binary gender option. But a right-wing resurgence and the breakdown of political talks at the local level have threatened the country’s heyday.

Until a new government is formed, a process that can take weeks to months, Mrs. Merkel will be acting head of government. The formation of the government will depend on how the vote is cast and how difficult it is for the winning party to negotiate with the smaller supporters to form the government.

The chancellor left his party leadership in December 2018, but remained head of government until after the election, a position that left him a lame duck, making his decision even more difficult in the second year of the epidemic. He promised to stay out of the election campaign, but since then Mr. Lashett has made various comments aimed at strengthening flag support.

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