fischer179_Michael Kappelerpicture alliance via Getty Images_bundestag merkel Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Return of German Politics

After 16 years of Angela Merkel's chancellorship, it has become difficult for Germans to imagine a government led by anyone else. But two defeats for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union raise the prospect of a new era in German politics, when high-stakes decisions will finally have to be taken.

BERLIN – Angela Merkel’s 16-year reign as German chancellor is coming to an end. Whatever one’s feelings about her, she has put her stamp on an entire era. But political epochs rarely end quietly, and “Mutti’s” long goodbye is no exception.

German electoral politics have finally started to heat up. The first two state elections of what will be a super election year pointed to the possibility that the federal election on September 26 could produce a new government coalition without Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

In both Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, large losses for the CDU coincided with equally strong gains for the Greens and a stable share of the vote for the Free Democrats (FDP). Hence, there is now talk of a possible “traffic light” coalition between the Social Democrats (red), the FDP (yellow), and the Greens. Suddenly, a change of government in Berlin seems like a realistic possibility.

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