Martin Meissner / AP
BERLIN Millions of Germans will go to the polls in a federal election on Sunday that will determine who will succeed Angela Merkel after 16 years as chancellor of Germany.
According to recent polls, Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party is just ahead of its Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian partner, the Christian Social Union. They are followed by the Greens, the far-right Alternative for Germany, and the Free Liberal Democratic Party, all holding double-digit polls that go into Sunday’s election.
Josef Janning, a senior fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, says the two traditional big tent parties have failed to pull support outside their traditional bases in a more diverse Germany with many more voters. regarding class or religion.
“They are less willing to make a compromise within their segment of society,” Janning says. “They prefer to pursue their specific interests and preferences with like-minded groups.”
And, he says, this results “in a much more fragmented party system, where a large party should probably be considered a party that can reach more than 20% of the vote.”
Another factor influencing this broad spectrum of electoral policies is the vacuum left by Angela Merkel’s departure.
“I wish she would run again and stay as chancellor,” said 27-year-old voter Jessica Laufer, a scientist living in the Baltic Sea town of Stralsund. “I do not like the CDU candidate for chancellor, and it is unlikely that we will see a Green chancellor, so it is a real shame for her to resign.”
Laufer was 11 years old when Merkel became chancellor. Now that Laufer has her children, she says she would prefer Green Party chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock to prevail, but she does not see Baerbock’s party receiving a large share of the vote. Like many young parents in Germany, Laufer is voting for the Greens because she says she wants a better climate for her children and believes traditional German parties are not doing enough to tackle climate change.
Another voter, Christoph Homes, lives near Hamburg and has traditionally voted for Merkel’s center-right party, but he is unhappy with CDU candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet.
“He’s like a puppet,” Homes says, acknowledging that he believes Social Democrat candidate Olaf Scholz is likely to dominate. “Yes, Olaf Scholz will be a good chancellor, but he will probably end up ruling with the Greens and then things will become expensive for us voters.“
The CDU and the Social Democrats have expressed interest in forming a coalition with the Greens. What is clear from the poll data is that whoever comes out on top, the next German government is likely to be a coalition of three political parties, a rarity in German politics.
Esme Nicholson contributed to this story from Berlin.
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