Germany is about to lose its political mother and an air of uncertainty clouds the current election to replace her.
They call Angela Merkel “Mutti”, or Mummy, because of her calm reassuring style of rule in crisis after crisis.
For young Germans, she is the only leader they have ever known.
Image: Germans call Angela Merkel ‘Mutti’ or Mummy because of her reassuring leadership style
We joined a posse of young leafleteers from Ms Merkel’s rivals’ party, the Social Democratic Party.
Emma Otto, freshly back from au pairing in Dulwich, told us losing Mutti will be weird.
“She’s been the only chancellor I’ve known,” she said. “I can’t remember a time before her so I think it’s going to be a really big change.”
They are missing her already.
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We spoke to volunteers heading to help victims of July’s devastating floods.
A huge voluntary effort has sprung up in the absence of official help.
Image: (L-R) Social Democratic Party leader Olaf Scholz, Alliance 90/The Greens leader Annalena Baerbock and Christian Democratic Union leader Armin Laschet are the election’s top contenders
In its camp, many sounded disillusioned with politics in general.
“It’s a difficult election,” one volunteer told us. “I think none of the candidates is fully convincing.
“Someone was joking if Angela Merkel was still up for election she’d probably win because people would say we’ve seen the alternatives, we’d better stay with what we have.”
Another young voter out handing out leaflets was welcoming change.
Image: Candidate Olaf Schulz has been described as ‘boring’
“Sixteen years of chancellorship is too much I’d say,” Alicem Polat told Sky News.
“We have our candidate, Olaf Scholz, so we definitely say there is someone to replace her.”
“People say he’s boring,” I interject.
“He is, I admit, but maybe that’s the German way of politics.”
Image: Alicem Polat said Angela Merkel has been chancellor for too long
And there’s the rub. The likely next chancellor Olaf Scholz, Germany’s current finance minister, has no political pizzazz or charisma.
But that may be a good thing to voters.
Unsettled by the loss of Ms Merkel and the pandemic, Germans will take quiet, boring competence over excitement.
He is also the last person standing for now at least in the polls.
Ms Merkel’s heir apparent should have been Armin Laschet.
Image: (L-R) Election posters of Armin Laschet, Olaf Scholz, Annalena Baerbock and Christian Lindner
But the new Christian Democratic Union leader has slipped on a banana skin thrown up by recent disastrous floods.
In the background, while dignitaries made speeches honouring the floods’ victims, Mr Laschet was caught on camera sniggering.
His standing took a beating in the polls.
So much for the CDU.
Image: CDU candidate Armin Laschet was caught on camera laughing while dignitaries made speeches about flooding victims. File pic
The floods should have been a godsend for the Greens, clear evidence of the dangers of climate change.
And yet Annalena Baerbock, their leader, has been unable to sustain an early lead in the polls.
Accused of plagiarism and lack of experience, she has floundered ever since.
So for now Mr Scholz remains the favourite to win the lion’s share of the vote, giving him the chance to build a coalition.
Max Meyer, political scientist at Bonn University, told Sky News his alleged lack of personality may be just what Germany needs.
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July: Angela Merkel meets the Queen during her visit to the UK
“That makes him probably a better leader,” he said.
“Because it’s more pragmatic and it’s not the theatrics or the big flashiness of charisma, but it’s more policy issues and it’s more policy-driven.”
He may be what Germany wants after Ms Merkel, but the shoes he has to fill are enormous if he wins.
Image: Max Meyer said Olaf Schulz’s lack of personality may be just what Germany needs
Ms Merkel rode out the euro crisis, the migrants crisis, the financial crisis and handled autocrats and allies with a firm fairness that soothed tensions and protected German interests.
“I think Germany is going to be very soon nostalgic,” said Mr Meyer, “and probably most will look back with very positive feelings because she was capable of managing crisis and of portraying the country still as stable.”
Germans are going to miss their Mutti.
Source : Sky News