German voters are heading to the polls in what could be a major political shift in Germany and Europe as the era of Angela Merkel’s reign as Chancellor ends after nearly 16 years in power.
The era of Angela Merkel as German leader has seen the country undergo rapid changes, particularly in regards to mass migration and demographic changes following the 2015 migrant crisis.
While Germany has maintained its position as the industrial powerhouse of the European Union and has managed to navigate several crises, such as the 2007-08 economic crash, Chancellor Merkel will be leaving Germany with many unresolved problems.
According to a report from the Economist magazine, Germany has several major issues facing it in the post-Merkel era, from troubles within the Germany automotive industry to the still-present problem of an ageing population and failures to reform its pension system.
The magazine also notes that while the European Union will likely miss Merkel, who has been labelled the de facto ruler of the EU previously, under her leadership Germany did little to challenge the growth of Chinese Communist influence and has also backed Russian gas pipelines.
Germany: Left-Wing Candidate to Replace Merkel Backs EU Army https://t.co/0mHCH1hYia
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 29, 2021
One of the moments that has defined the Merkel era has been the 2015 migrant crisis which led to over a million migrants entering Germany, mostly coming during the summer of 2015 until the spring of 2016 when an EU deal with Turkey slowed the flow of migrants.
Hans-Georg Maassen, the former head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), labelled Merkel’s immigration policies “fatal” for Germany earlier this year in July.
“[Germans] simply cannot understand why ever more people are coming into this country even though they obviously have no right to asylum; why we aren’t deporting them and why politicians just put up with the fact that the people here are falling victim to these migrants,” he said.
Some in Germany continue to argue for even more migration as the country’s population continues to grow older on average.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle notes that in Sunday’s election, 38 per cent of the expected voters are over the age of 60, while those under the age of 30 will make up just 15 per cent of the expected total.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policies on immigration have been “fatal” to Germany, the countries former top domestic intelligence chief has said. https://t.co/sA6sfrRnQU
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 4, 2021
Mass migration has also seen rapid demographic shifts within younger populations in Germany under Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor.
A 2020 report noted that over a quarter of all Germans now have a migration background, while in the western part of the country 42 per cent of children under the age of six have a migration background.
While she is leaving as Chancellor, Merkel has been present on the campaign trail and has endorsed her successor as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Armin Laschet, claiming that only he can continue the successful economic policies enacted under her rule.
However, polls show that Laschet may be in trouble, as the left-wing Social Democrats (SPD) have been polling higher than the CDU recently, leading to some speculation that the CDU may not even be a part of the next German government.
The Chairman of the German Board of the Federal Employment Agency has claimed that Germany needs at least 400,000 migrants to arrive per year https://t.co/UfJEFKnz9F
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 28, 2021
Despite the results of Sunday’s vote, a coalition agreement could take months to form and this would see Chancellor Merkel remain in post as German leader until an agreement is reached.
There are also multiple scenarios for coalitions, including a far-left government of the SPD, the Greens, and possibly the Marxist Left Party — but some have noted that the last of these is increasingly close to dipping below the five per cent barrier, which could mean they do not enter the German parliament at all.
“There are two factors which explain why a red-red-green coalition is now being taken seriously,” political scientist Thorsten Holzhauser told France24 earlier this week.
“Firstly, the SPD and Greens have – for once – not ruled out the possibility; secondly, according to certain polls such a left-wing coalition has the numbers for an absolute majority in the Bundestag.”
Social Democrats Win in German Elections Could See Communists Return to Government https://t.co/CNEaDbXVxt
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 21, 2021
A left-wing coalition government could have major policy implications not only in Germany but across the European Union and even NATO, which the Left Party wants Germany to abandon in favour of a new collective security system with participation from Russia.
While SPD leader Olaf Scholz has said he would support deportations to Afghanistan under certain conditions, the other left-wing parties are not in favour of halting migration at all as a potential crisis of Afghan migrants looms in the near future.