Germany to hold federal parliamentary election

German citizens head to the polls today as Germany’s federal election begins. After serving 16 years as chancellor, Angela Merkel

Photo: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters

German citizens head to the polls today as Germany’s federal election begins.

After serving 16 years as chancellor, Angela Merkel will step down. The leader of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), Armin Laschet, will contest the chancellorship in her place.

Recent polls indicate the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and their candidate, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, narrowly lead the CDU-Christian Social Union (CSU) coalition by 25% to 23%. Merkel has expressed concern that an SPD win may threaten Germany’s economy by increasing debts to the EU.

Germany’s ‘debt brake’ rule—which limits government borrowing—will likely be temporarily curbed or suspended. Scholz has called for increased borrowing while interest rates are low to expand Germany’s renewable energy sector and blunt the residual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the eastern German states lag behind the rest of Germany developmentally, expect Scholz’ policies of increased investment to gain regional votes. While many German voters seek change from the 16-year status quo, given Laschet’s comparative lack of popular support, his attempts to compensate by leaning further right for conservative votes are risky, but may represent his only viable move, likely offsetting Scholz’ popularity and resulting in a CDU-CSU parliamentary majority.

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