by Lukas Baumann
Angela Merkel from the CDU has announced that she will run for her fourth term as Germany’s chancellor. Before the Syrian migrant crisis no one would have doubted Angela Merkel's fourth term with a favorable rating of over 70% (according to ‘die Welt’), but her stance on refugees and opening the borders has caused her ratings to fall rapidly; however, they have recovered to 59%.
Even though she is not as popular as she used to be, people thought she was the most likely to win the chancellorship, since the other major party SPD (Socialist Partei Deutschlands) has Sigmar Gabriel running. Sigmar Gabriel would have been an easy opponent for her to take, because he was her vice chancellor for the last four years during the refugee crisis and he is unpopular in Germany. However, Sigmar Gabriel stepped back as chair of the SPD and gave way for Martin Schulz to head the SPD and so to run for the chancellorship, since most of the time those two positions (of candidate and head of the party) are held by the same person.
Since the sudden announcement of Martin Schulz to run for chancellor, the SPD has gained in popularity, because Martin Schulz shows how the program of the SPD is different from the one of the CDU. This move is very popular with SPD voters, since they are socialists and the CDU, who they govern and form the government with, is conservative. This causes a frequent disagreement of their political programs and campaign promises.
So now one might think the SPD is most likely to win since they have a new face and Germany - having been governed by the same party and the same chancellor since 2005 - is in the opinion of many in need for a change and more socialist ideas. However, Martin Schulz was the president of the EU, a not so popular political background in Germany. Also, Martin Schulz has no experience in German federal government, which could be a hurdle in german politics unlike in other countries. Another problem for Schulz is that in german politics one party rarely ever rules germany on its own, meaning the SPD needs another party it can join forces with and form a government(coalition). However, the options for coalitions are limited as they need a majority in the bundestag (german congress) and their politics have to be aligned into a plan. So, the options that the SPD has are limited and unpopular even among their own politicians, since there are left parties but these are sometimes seen as too extreme.
Furthermore, Angela Merkel, as harshly criticised as she might often be, represents stability in Germany and many people in Germany now want stability since the world outside has changed dramatically (Trump, Duterte’s war on drugs, Brexit, ISIS, and Europe’s growing right). Under her leadership Germany also had an economic boom and has been modernised from a christian and old industry country like coal into a modern and liberal country who has gained an excellent reputation abroad by accepting and learning from germany's horrible past.
At the moment, it looks like the Germans still favour Angela Merkel; however, who knows what is going to happen, especially after the political turmoil in 2016 and russia's increased intervention in the west's politics.
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