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Politics

Floods, Books & Kids: Highlights of German Election Campaign

September 23, 2021

BERLIN  — Germans go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament and produce a new German leader after 16 years of having Angela Merkel at the helm. Merkel decided not to run for a fifth term and the election campaign has largely focused on the three candidates hoping to succeed her.

Here is a look at the highs, the lows and the unexpected that happened during Germany's latest campaign:

WHAT'S HOT, WHAT'S NOT

Climate change rose to the top of Germany's political agenda over the summer, following the deadly floods that hit western Germany in July and which experts say will become more likely if global warming continues.

The issue was hotly discussed during the televised election debates, with the three main candidates staking out different plans to tackle climate change.

While Merkel's center-right Union bloc and its main candidate, Armin Laschet, want to focus on technological solutions, the center-left Social Democrats under current Finance Minister Olaf Scholz emphasized the need to protect jobs from being lost as Europe's biggest economy tilts toward a carbon-neutral future.

The Greens, who have made the issue their core campaign topic, pledged to do everything to put Germany on course to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord. They want to achieve that by ramping up carbon prices, requiring solar panels on all new public buildings and ending the use of coal eight years earlier than planned.

Foreign policy, including the future of the European Union, received comparatively little attention during the campaign. Although Berlin's allies have long called for Germany to show more leadership on the international stage, the three candidates shied away from presenting any radical foreign policy visions.

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