On September 24th, the people of Germany went to their polling stations to vote for their next chancellor. Would it be current German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, or would it be former President of the European Union (EU), Martin Schulz?
It was no surprise that Chancellor Merkel won her fourth term as leader of Germany, but the election was still closely watched by the world. Why? First, there have been several surprising elections this past year—we’re talking Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron’s victory over more experienced politicians in France, and let’s not forget about Britain’s vote to exit the European Union! After these elections, it became clear that anything can happen. Second, Germany’s economy is strong—the strongest of all the countries that make up the EU. What does that mean? Germany has a lot of influence over the EU’s policies, not to mention the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU. So is Germany powerful? We’d say so. What else? In recent years, the world has seen a rise in populist, or far-right, groups that favor anti-immigration. In Germany, this group is called the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD). Although AfD did not win the election, it did win seats in parliament, marking the first time a far-right group has won a seat in parliament since the 1950s.
Side note: Germans actually vote for who they want to fill the seats in their Bundestag, or the country’s parliament, not their chancellor. The party that wins the most seats then forms a government. The leader of that party is then named the Chancellor of Germany.