Angela Merkel has shaped Germany for the last 16 years, but now she is retiring. An entire generation has only known Merkel as chancellor. A member of that generation includes Emil Wensel. He's a teenager from Düsseldorf who has just graduated from high school. He joined the Junge Union, the youth party of the CDU, at the age of 14. He describes Merkel as a reliable head of government, to him she stands for stability. "She had to handle various crises, you could even say she drifted from one crisis to another.", he adds.
An experienced sucessor
In Emil's opinion, the conservatives are well prepared for a new era without Merkel. He trusts in the CDU's party leader and chancellor candidate, Armin Laschet. Emil argues that Laschet, who is Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia,has done a good job in this federal state and says that he has experience. Emil is truly confident that Laschet will do well in the federal government.
Emil is also one of nearly three million young adults who are being called to vote. Election researchers, like Erik Flügge say that this generation in particular welcomes change and they are expected to get that with a new chancellor. Flügge even expects a "radically different picture".According to the latest polls, among the 18-29 year-olds, Merkel's CDU party is losing out to the Greens and the Liberals.
Johannes Klein is part of a green university group. He criticises Merkel for not addressing issues that concern youth enough. His main concerns are social justice and climate protection. What Klein wants is a "sustainable future for young people but also stable pensions" for their grandparents. Philosophy student, Klein, expects the new government to pursue policies that take all generations into account.
Angela Merkel's chancellorship will soon be history, but some of her more iconic moments remain in the memory of young voters. We asked several random young voters what comes to mind when they think of Merkel. To Alex Urban, what particularly stands out is when she said "the internet is new territory." To Fatma Sustam, it's refugees shouting 'thank you' to Merkel that stands out. For Alexander Lengersdorf, it's her motivational phrase 'We can do it' from 2015.
In many respects, Angela Merkel has shaped German youth and now it may fall to them to choose her successor. Although 60 million Germans are eligible to vote, more than two thirds of them are in their second half of life as Germany has an aging population. This will surely influence the ballot box, but in this tight election campaign, young citizens could provide the candidates with the last missing votes they need to pave their way to the chancellorship.