This year was a very exciting time to be in Germany as an exchange student because Germany held such an exciting election! The famous, and widely-liked previous chancellor, Angela Merkel decided to step down after nearly 16 years. Germany was (and is still) quite unsure of its political future since so much has changed in the world since Merkel first became chancellor. As an observer from the outside, I noticed that many of my younger classmates were ready for a change and hoped for a very progressive new government, while others were happy with the way things had gone in the past, so they wanted to stick with a tried and tested option. Due to this divide in thinking, the results of the election were also quite divided. In the past, there were really only 2 major parties: The CDU/CSU and The SPD. Every chancellor since World War II had come from one of these parties, so it was interesting to watch other parties garner lots of votes and even have a chance at electing someone from their party.
Specific details aside, I had a fascinating week leading up to the election on Sunday, September 26th. My politics class was obviously very engaged with the election, so when my teacher found out that there would be a Green Party event not far from our school in Hamburg on Monday, he decided it would be a perfect opportunity to show students what political events were like. We watched Robert Habeck speak and my classmates were able to ask questions. The next day, in school, we discussed the atmosphere of the event and how the party tried to gain votes.
Believe it or not, this was not the only Green Party event I attended! On Thursday, I also went to the final Green Party event before the election in Potsdam because my host dad was playing the opening concert before Annalena Baerbock took the stage. We arrived at the venue early to set up, and I actually got the chance to shake hands with Baerbock! I’m definitely a politics nerd so shaking hands with one of the candidates for chancellor was incredibly cool. Unfortunately, I hadn’t even realized who I was shaking hands with until after Baerbock left, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to her. I was sort of backstage at the event, so I had a good vantage point on my host dad’s concert. I really enjoyed their music too! Overall, the day was really awesome.
On Sunday, election day, my host mom went to vote (my host dad already voted by mail) at a nearby school, and then we spent the day at a museum as we knew we wouldn’t be able to see the results of the election until later that evening.
At 8pm, we had abendbrot and watched the news about the election on my host mom’s laptop. We talked a bit about the results and went to bed since it was a school night.
By now I know that there was not a clear winner because The results between parties were split much more evenly than they had been in the past. Now, the parties are working on forming a coalition and deciding who will become the chancellor.
I’m so glad I had the chance to experience this election as an exchange student! Especially after witnessing the major US election just last year, it was fun to be able to talk about both political systems and learn the similarities and differences.
P.S. My apologies that I couldn't upload better photos for this post! The software is only accepting the one. :)