With Merkel out, Germany alters course

Hudson Ellis, staff writer

Germany recently had an election in which the Social Democrat Party won the majority. This was their greatest victory in recent years. Angela Merkel, the incumbent Chancellor, chose not to run for re-election. Merkel had been Chancellor since 2005.
“The chancellor is going to step down soon and there will be a new one in December,” said Lucas Clendennen, a junior.
The margin of victory for the Social Democrats was very small with the party winning 206 seats in the Bundestag and 25% of the vote, marking their best turnout since 2005. The Christian Democrats won 196 seats and 24% of the vote, marking their lowest number of seats won to date.
This election had the highest turn out of any German election so far. Out of 61 million registered voters, 46 million voted in this most recent election.
The President of Germany is largely a ceremonial role and does not hold much political power. The real “head of state” is the Chancellor, which leads the main political party in the Bundestag. The most prominent political parties are Christian Democrats, Social Democrats (SPD), Greens, Free Democrats (FDP), Die Linke, and the Alternative for Germany (AFD).
“[Germany] has a government building with a glass roof that people can walk over to symbolize that its government is supposed to be transparent and that the people are over it,” said Melissa Marquette, a sophomore.
Local and regional governments hold a substantial amount of power alongside their federal government. Every four years, representatives are elected by German citizens into the Bundestag, which is the national assembly of Germany. Voters cast two votes, one for a specific candidate they choose, and the other for a “party list” which goes to a specific political party.
“The people in Germany are very diverse. There’s not one group of people in Germany. There’s people from all over the world, much more so than the United States,” said Emma Gilbert, a sophomore who lived in Germany for several years.
Since the fall of the Nazis at the end of World War II, Germany has strived to be the pinnacle of freedom and democracy in Europe. Since the end of the war, Germany has become the most powerful economy in the European Union as well as in greater Europe.
“They’re basically completely in control of the EU,” said Louie Vertin, a pilot from Minnesota.
With a new political party in control of the nation, many hope for the continued growth of the German economy, as well as for Germany to continue to be a haven for freedom and democracy.