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German elections: Europe awaits

German elections: Europe awaits
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Here in Brussels, as in most parts of the European Union, all eyes are on Germany. The federal election campaign has put most big political projects to one side: the banking union, as well as plans to foster growth.

No big decisions are taken anymore in the EU without a clear position from the chancellor’s office here in Berlin. Many Europeans are hoping for clarity after the elections.

Most Germans agree with the step-by-step process of their chancellor, Angela Merkel, who is, according to all polls, most likely to continue in her role. They feel she’s someone they can trust – and Merkel has kept European issues strictly out of the election campaign.

Only the ‘The Left’ party and the alternative ‘For Germany’ party have been campaigning on European issues. But most Germans feel that the priority of the campaign lies elsewhere.

Even if Merkel is forced into a coalition with the Social Democrats, those who hope for a more flexible Germany could still be disappointed, according to Judy Dempsey from the Carnegie Foundation:

“There is a strange misunderstanding, from Labour in Britain, and the French socialists: ‘Oh, with the SPD in a coalition with Merkel, they’ll be soft on the Euro, they’ll spend more and they’ll defend the social chart and everything in Europe. Yes, the SPD will defend this, but remember, the SPD supported Angela Merkel all the time on the way she managed the eurozone crisis.”

In Europe, hopes are high that this election will fundamentally change the situation. But more than anything the German chancellor might get an even stronger mandate to push for what’s dear to her: greater austerity; reforms in France and in Greece.