Germans Vote on Sunday- Here’s What You Need to Know

In a year where the political landscape in the United Kingdom, United States, and the continent have shifted dramatically, one country has stood firm with remarkable fortitude: Germany.

Germans have had to endure a lot of hardship in the past couple of years. The Eurozone crisis saw the German government take the lead and contribute billions of euros to an EU bailout programme at the expense of the German taxpayer. The refugee crisis saw over one million asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East enter the country seeking safe haven from conflict and famine. And of course, the rise in populism and anti-Brussels sentiment where, in Germany, this has been channeled into a rise in support for the right-wing nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Through it all, the German people have sacrificed for sure, but have come out stronger than ever, with the German economy growing at pre-financial crisis levels and the average take-home pay of Germans rising at rates at least consistent with inflation.

So, when Germans go to the polls on Sunday, what will be foremost on their minds? Immigration and the settlement of refugees? Greece? The strength of the European Union? Maybe the Ukrainian conflict? A week before voting, Germans are focused on the economy and healthcare. Both issues are areas of strength for Chancellor Merkel.

The Social Democrats’ candidate Martin Schulz has failed to convince the country that Merkel is undeserving of a fourth term as Chancellor. As the statistics show, the economy is strong, the EU’s deal with Turkey- brokered by Merkel- has drastically reduced the flow of asylum-seekers, the Eurozone economy is growing and the Ukrainian conflict has been less fierce. The EU is no longer a “sinking ship” and, despite Brexit, support for the Union is strong, especially after candidates like Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen were defeated in general elections earlier this year.

For all intents and purposes, Germans are not particularly worried about their future and it has been Mutti who has guided them through the storms, only to come out more formidable.

What’s rather remarkable is just how spectacularly Schulz has failed at convincing Germans that it’s time for a change. The former European Parliament President has been warning voters that Merkel is “out of ideas” and “lacks vision for the future”, but Germans just don’t see it that way. Even young voters, who historically have voted for parties on the left like SPD, Die Linke or the Greens, are supporting Merkel’s CDU/CSU by just over 50%.

The Chancellor is hoping that the polls are accurate and her Christian Democrats may enter into a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats once more. The FDP, who failed to reach the 5% threshold necessary to enter the Bundestag at the 2013 election, are currently polling third on 8%, ahead of the AFD, Die Linke and Greens. If the FDP are able to increase their support in time for polling day on Sunday, there’s a good chance we could see a CDU/FDP coalition once more, which would likely mean a reduction in taxation, regulatory cuts and improvements to Germany’s infrastructure. The SPD have ruled out entering another “Grand Coalition” with Merkel’s party, but polling suggests that might not even matter.

When Germans go to the polls on Sunday, they will look back at the last four years and Merkel’s leadership through several crises and very likely decide that she is deserving of four more.  Angela Merkel, as controversial as she has become in recent years, is seen by many as a steady hand of competent leadership, particularly in times of turbulence. Germans value consistency above all else in politics, especially when results continue to show that Merkel’s leadership creates positive results, generally, for Germany and Europe.

The likelihood that we wake up Monday morning with another four years of Angela Merkel, and an even politically stronger one, is near certain. What those four years look like for Germany, Europe and the world, are questions Germans will be expecting Merkel to have answers to.

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