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Germany

Yearbook 2018

2018 GermanyGermany. During the year we could see the end of an era. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in October that she will not run as party leader for the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) at the party congress in early December. Then Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was elected new party leader. She was Merkel's candidate and won against the more conservative Friedrich Merz with 517 votes against 482 for Merz. According to Countryaah.com, Merkel also announced in October that she remained the longest serving as Chancellor until the elections in 2021. Merkel has been CDU leader since 2000 and Chancellor since 2005. Currently, she leads her fourth government (consisting of CDU, CSU and Social Democratic SPD).

2018 Germany

It has been a turbulent year for Merkel. The state elections have not directly shown that she is still popular, and the government negotiations after the September 2017 elections dragged on. It was only in March that the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats were able to form a joint government, together with the CDU's Bavarian sister party CSU. On March 14, Confederation Day elected Angela Merkel as Chancellor with the numbers 364–315. In her new government, Heiko Maas (SPD) became Foreign Minister, Olaf Scholz (SPD) Minister of Finance and Vice Chancellor, Horst Seehofer (CSU) Minister of the Interior and Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) Minister of Defense. In connection with the government negotiations and a postal vote among the SPD's members in February, Martin Schulz resigned as party leader for the SPD. He was replaced in April by Andrea Nahles, former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs.

At the October state elections in Hesse and Bavaria, the government parties declined sharply, which in all likelihood contributed to Merkel's decision not to run for the party leadership post.

Compared to the elections in Hesse 2013, both the CDU and the SPD declined significantly, the CDU by 10 percentage points to historically low 28%, the SPD from 30% to 20%. Things went better for the Green Party, which went ahead by 8 percentage points and ended up at about 20%, and the right-wing populist AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), which took up the state parliament for the first time with 12% of the vote.

In the Bavarian state elections, CDU's sister party CSU lost 12 percentage points compared to 2013, but still managed to become the largest party with just over 35% of the vote. The Greens became the second largest party with 18.5%, followed by right-wing populist AfD (11%) and Social Democratic SPD (10%). The election meant that CSU lost the absolute majority that has been in the state parliament since the 1960s. The AfD's success meant that it now sat in 15 state parliaments.

In early July, the German Government Coalition agreed on an agreement on the issue of migration. After many trips, the CDU/CSU had agreed to establish transit centers at the border with Austria. The Social Democratic SPD opposed transit centers and managed to persuade the CDU/CSU to instead let the police run the transit process. But the agreement also meant stopping refugees at the German border and speeding up the process of sending back migrants who had previously sought asylum in another EU country. This is according to the so-called Dublin Regulation, which says that if you flee to Europe you should seek asylum in the first safe country to which you come. CSU leader Horst Seehofer had demanded that, directly at border controls, refugees who had already applied for asylum in another EU country should be rejected - he even threatened to crack the government coalition if he did not get his will through, but fell short of Merkel's pressure and aligned themselves with the joint. The background to the conflict and the agreement was that at the end of June the EU had agreed on a migration agreement which would allow the countries concerned to set up special reception centers for migrants.

At the beginning of August, seven such reception centers were opened for asylum seekers in Bavaria. Here, it is intended that asylum seekers throughout the asylum process should stay in one place. It is hoped that the waiting times will be shortened and that those who get rejected should be expelled sooner. At the same time, it is easier for refugees with a limited residence permit to be able to reunite with their families. If you are denied a residence permit, you should be sent back to your home country.

Germany's gender equality ombudsman Kristin Rose-Möhring (SPD) proposed in March that the national song "Deutschlandlied" should be gender neutral. Among other things, she wanted "Vaterland" changed to "homeland" and "brotherly" (as in "brotherly with heart and hand") changed to "brave". She has not yet received any hearing from the Chancellor.

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