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Roanoke College students & the German federal election

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Written by Edgard Lacayo

On September 21st Roanoke College held a panel discussion on the 2021 German federal election. It was held in the Wortman Ballroom and virtually. Two German students were asked about their views toward the election and its outcome. Their responses were edited for clarity and to make it more comprehensible for people who are not as familiar with the German elections. Their names are not included so their answers will be marked with numbers. 

What is your personal perspective/opinion on the election?

1: Very surprised by the SPD (center-left party) showing since they had been on the decline for a long time. It has shown the shift towards more progressive politics. Almost every party had a plan to fight climate change for example. Overall, Germans value stability and incremental change. People are structural conservatives as opposed to value conservatives meaning that extremely rapid change is not something that would happen in Germany. 

2: Disappointed with the results of the election. It was a big chance for change and was hopeful that people would want change, especially the youth. But that did not occur. 

What was the most important issue of the election in your opinion?

1: Climate change, the economy, and housing prices 

2: The question of who you are making politics for, the older generations or younger and the future generations?

Are you surprised by the results?

1: Not surprised by the results. The polls showed the SPD winning. Overall, what was surprising was how much the CDU (center right) lost in the election since it was the previous chancellor’s, Angela Merkel, party. A more interesting result was how the left generally voted in favor of the greens (center left) rather than for Die Linke (left-wing) showing that climate change was one of the main issues of the election.

2: The overall result was not surprising. It was expected to see the showing of the SPD, CDU, and the greens. What was surprising was the popularity of the FDP (Libertarian party) among first-time voters. 

Is there an issue you believe was not addressed by any party which you would like to see addressed?

1: I would consider the issues that weren’t covered is what is known as America as “culture wars”. The culture of consensus in Germany tends to stifle debate on these more controversial topics. Also, what was not discussed was the topic of centralization vs decentralization in the EU. Essentially, should Germany give more or less power to the EU? 

2: So much was covered by parties in their official programs and political campaigns. Anything that was not addressed is probably not understood by the general population. Everything of importance was touched on at some point. In the debates, there were complaints that they covered non-relevant issues, but these were all included in the official programs of the parties for their campaigns.