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Germans voice expectations as country braces for post-Merkel era

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-26 07:15
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves the plenary hall of the lower house of Parliament, or Bundestag, during one of the last sessions before the federal elections in Berlin, Germany, September 7, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will retire after 16 years in office. In the coming post-Merkel era, Germans, who will witness a new federal government without her after the Bundestag elections on Sunday, voice their own expectations when looking ahead to the future.

Strangest election

Michael Mertes, polling expert at Infratest dimap, told Xinhua that this has been "one of the strangest election campaigns Germany has ever seen."

"Instead of being presented with two major alternatives in the form of two political camps, German voters faced three chancellor candidates whose charisma looked rather weak," Mertes said.

He said that various three-party coalitions are conceivable today and he expected most probably a "long phase of government formation after the Bundestag elections because no party will achieve an overwhelming victory."

In principle, there is great agreement between all parties on the crucial importance of climate protection, Mertes added.

German citizen Alexander also expressed similar concerns. He said Germany has not seen a three-party coalition for decades.

"However, as a wealthy country, I think a lot of people in Germany long for stability and continuity, but on issues such as climate, people want something done," Alexander said.

Future policies

Schalin, a student in Berlin, told Xinhua that she thinks Merkel was very good, but when looking ahead, she also has new wishes for better climate and education.

"I hope everything about the climate will become better. In all means the education will be better," said the 13-year-old.

Thiess Petersen, senior adviser at the German Bertelsmann Foundation, told Xinhua that he sees three major tasks that the new government should take up immediately when it comes to economic policy.

According to him, the new government should handle the ecological transformation of the economy toward a climate-neutral one, reduce the debts accumulated and still being accumulated during the COVID-19 crisis, and deal with demographic change.

In the opinion of Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, Director of CAR Center Automotive Research Duisburg, what is important in the post-Merkel era is Germany's foreign policy position.

"The election results should bring some certainty," Dudenhoeffer said, adding that he is confident that the relationship between Germany and China can continue to be shaped in a sensible way.

In the future, Germany needs good cooperation with China, the United States and Russia. It makes little sense to build up a kind of anti-China strategy with great power posturing of a European Union that is rather fragmented and difficult, Dudenhoeffer said.

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