The Latest: Some German voters struggle to pick next leader

The Latest on Germany’s election:


BERLIN — Voters are delivering a mixed verdict on the era of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel as they choose a new German parliament, and some are struggling with the choice of potential new leaders.

Polls opened Sunday after a rollercoaster campaign. Recent surveys point to a very close race between Merkel’s center-right Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats, with the Greens trailing in third.

In Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, a traditional leftwing stronghold, Jan Kemper, a 41-year-old manager at an online bank, said the climate crisis and Germany’s slow pace of digitalization were among his main concerns.

He praised Merkel’s crisis management style but said that key issues were left unattended.

“This election is extremely important,” he said. “Previously, elections set the course for the next two to four years. Now decisions have to be made that will affect the next generations.”

In Berlin’s Mitte district, 48-year-old social worker Wiebke Bergmann said that “this election is really special, I think, because Angela Merkel is not running again.”

She said: “I really thought hard about which candidate I want as next chancellor — until this morning I hadn’t made up my mind. None of the three really convinced me.”


BERLIN — German voters are choosing a new parliament in an election that will determine who succeeds Chancellor Angela Merkel after her 16 years at the helm of Europe’s biggest economy.

Polls point to a very close race Sunday. The battle is between Merkel’s center-right Union bloc with state governor Armin Laschet running for chancellor and the center-left Social Democrats for whom outgoing finance minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz is seeking the top job.

Recent surveys show the Social Democrats marginally ahead. They also show the environmentalist Greens who are putting forth candidate Annalena Baerbock are in third place several points behind. About 60.4 million people in the nation of 83 million are eligible to elect the new parliament.


BERLIN — Two climate activists have ended their hunger strike after a leading candidate for chancellor of Germany agreed to a public meeting with them following Sunday’s general election.

The decision came just hours after the hunger strikers had escalated their protest Saturday, refusing liquids in addition to food. They had demanded that Olaf Scholz, the candidate for the Social Democrats, declare publicly that Germany faces a climate emergency.

Scholz confirmed the planned meeting in a statement on Twitter, saying saving lives takes precedent. Scholz and his two rivals for the top job had refused to meet with the hunger strikers before the election.

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