It seems as though I went from one daunting election in the U.S. to yet another in Germany. I’m not going to lie, arriving in a country and seeing mega sized headshots of candidates in the streets really reminds you that you have no idea what is going on in the world and you’re one of the most uneducated humans on this planet. To be fair, the world is a big place and it’s hard to keep up with everything that’s happening, but still.
Interestingly enough, I arrived in Germany smack dab in the midst of their election for their new Chancellor and government. As I said, there were tons of posters lining the streets of Mannheim. You seriously couldn’t go a couple blocks without seeing yet another campaign slogan. But it wasn’t until I accidentally stumbled upon a campaign rally and listened to some – I guess you could call it interesting – German rap in the center of the square, that my attention was finally caught.
It was fascinating to talk to a couple German Mannheim students and discuss their opinions on the recent chancellor election, and how they view politics in general. To start, this election was far more boring than the U.S. election, in their opinion of course. Angela Merkel (the winner if you still haven’t looked it up) was a clear shoe in, and the majority of Germany was content with this knowledge. Many Germans supposedly enjoy Angela Merkel, the work she is doing, and her political party in general.
What I didn’t find out until a couple days before the election was that Germans are growing more and more worried with their voter turnouts. They’re also starting to fear the rise of the far right AfD (Alternative for Germany) group, as it won 12.6% of the vote and will now hold 94 seats in the parliament. With a larger voice and greater access to financial resources, the AfD is definitely instilling some fear in German citizens around the nation.
You could clearly see anger towards this party as several of the AfD posters around Mannheim were defaced and written on. Something I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but this entire election drew some thought-provoking differences between the U.S. and Germany. Being just an observer to all of this, it was refreshing to see an election that wasn’t as heated as the one back home. This may be due to German directness, less media attention, and maybe even less interest from the public. It’ll be a very engaging hot topic to follow-up on during my next couple of months here, one that I’m highly looking forward to.