A German September

Will Germany turn on to a new path with Schulz or will it stay with Merkel?

Another battle in Europe is coming – the German election, in September. Although many are convinced that Angela Merkel will be re-elected as Chancellor, nothing seems certain yet, with her longstanding opponent Martin Schulz, and new opponent Sahra Wagenknecht, getting more popular every day. Merkel does have an advantage, although not as large, and apparently, the final decision would depend on the currently undecided voters.

As in other parts of the European Union, in Germany too, the main issues and dissatisfaction of the population are related to the economy and the large influx of refugees. However, unlike the rest of the EU, where right-wing parties have taken a sort of precedence in the campaigns, Germany has been the house of much more popular left-wing, social-political parties, such as is the Social Democrat Party (SPD) and its leader and Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz. The former president of the European parliament has recently decided to return to German politics and now is the most serious candidate against the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As expected, he has promised not only a variety of benefits for workers, but also additional payment for the unemployed, and a new “solidarity” pension; this has perceptibly and immediately attracted a large number of voters. As polls show, he has recently even surpassed Merkel, for the first time in ten years.

However, many still predict that Schulz cannot win alone, and that he may need a coalition with other opposition parties. The first candidate is Sahra Wagenknecht, the leader of Die Linke (the Left). Although she earlier strictly supported socialism, she now thinks differently, or atleast she claims so. Her current political progress is mostly due to her support of Schulz and the possible “red-red-green” coalition with him. She supports Euroscepticism and leaving the euro, and more recently she even put a blame on Merkel for the last terror attack in Berlin, blaming her refugee policies, and cuts in spending on police. She has gone to verbally slaying Merkel for her support of the US oil wars in the Middle East that actually was the reason for the birth of Islamic State. The statements may have done considerable damage to Wagenknecht’s and her Party’s image.

And Merkel may be on to something. Although she had made some unpopular moves, people still respect her. Although Germany’s surplus policy may not be entirely acceptable to the world, and there is a decline in several economic and social parameters, Merkel still has a  greater chance to win. The latest poll shows that Merkel’s coalition with the CDU and CSU again has an advantage over other candidates. In addition, Merkel has the support of 47 percent young people between 18 and 21. Apparently, the majority Germany’s voters approve of her new, tougher stance concerning the economy.

But Germany is going through arduous times. Inequality is rising, and its trading surplus with the US, the UK, and the EU is constantly on the decline. The economy is tired of budget discipline, and Merkel proposed to tighten the belt even further to become more competitive. Whether Merkel believes it or otherwise, another inordinate problem is the influx of refugees that jeopardizes the position of German workers, and the problem of terrorism is not helping either. As it stands, Schulz will certainly take advantage of the discontent of the people, but whether it will be enough to win, we will know in September.

 

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