• At the head of Germany for almost 16 years, Angela Merkel will step down from power following the federal elections held on Sunday, September 26.

  • In the first part of the series “Auf Wiedersehen Merkel”, the editorial staff of

    20 Minutes

     went to meet the under-25s, who bid farewell to the only Chancellor they have known.

  • Climate, society, digital ...

    “Merkel generation” is torn between impatience for change and fear of the unknown.

From our special correspondent in Berlin

Impeccable ponytail and large round glasses screwed onto her nose, Gloria graduated from Hertie School, the University of Berlin, where she studied public policy. At 23, the young German only knew Angela Merkel. “I was 7 when she became Chancellor! I never wondered what it would be like with another person running the country. For her, as for many young people, the end of the mandate of the Chancellor after the federal elections of September 26 is above all a great leap into the unknown. “We grew up with Angela Merkel, so that will be a big change! Says Peter, a sociology student, running his hand through his freshly discolored curls. A change of era that the "Merkel generation", as it is often called,waits with excitement often mixed with apprehension.

“I'm glad there is something new!

But on the other hand, I can't find any candidate better than her, ”says Jànosch, at the height of her 20 years.

Because “Mutti” - as the Germans affectionately nickname the chancellor (“mom” in French) - had something reassuring about it.

“She always gave me a sense of stability.

I have always trusted her and I find her competent.

This is the first time in my life that I told myself that the situation could become unstable, ”worries Gloria.

"She is futuristic"

If this generation associates Angela Merkel with stability, it is also because of the country's economic situation, underlines German political scientist Erik Flügge. “German youth have ten years of recklessness behind them. Most of their parents were employed and youth unemployment was extremely low. This led to a sense of stability and gave them professional prospects. This is not the case for the generation of 30-40 year-olds who, for their part, experienced a major employment crisis in the early 2000s and who, with the economic crisis of 2008, continued to live with it. this fear. "

As astonishing as it may seem, therefore, the leader of the very conservative CDU enjoys good popularity among young people.

“I like his style, his leadership.

I also like the fact that she has never put forward the fact that she is a woman, ”says Leonhard, who is pursuing a master's degree in public policy.

"She is futuristic and I think she was held back by her party, which is more conservative than she", underlines Gloria.

“It's very simple: Angela Merkel has never had a conservative speech, analyzes Erik Flügge.

She hardly ever adopts a political stance.

She is simply not seen as part of the government.

So she gets to be loved, even if some people are unhappy with the political decisions taken by the executive.


"The Chancellor of Crises"

For Gloria, we could also nickname Angela Merkel "the chancellor of crises". "It is certain that the political decisions it took during the euro or the coronavirus crises, to name but a few, obviously marked young people", points out Björn Milbradt, sociologist at the German Institute for youth. A point of view shared by Jànosch: “She has always succeeded in finding solutions at such times. "

But for many twenty-year-olds, the emblematic measure of the four successive terms of office remains its management of the migrant crisis in 2015. “This is the example that most stuck in our minds,” says Lea, a 25-year-old economics student. as she rushes into the library at Humboldt Universität.

By opening the borders, she made her own decision and went against her party ”.

No fanaticism, however, among these young people, aware of the political game.

“She did not do it humanism, analyzes Leonhard.

For me, this is an opportunistic decision, for its public image, especially in the media.

She is a good politician.


The new Chancellor expected at the turn

Moreover, Angela Merkel's mandate is far from being perceived as a flawless course in the opinion of young people. The promised digital transformation has not been achieved. "We have the impression that Germany was blocked five years ago on these subjects, such as Internet access in rural areas," Jànosch adds. A theme which, according to them, will have to be taken head-on by the new head of government. Just like the issue of the climate.

“The young activists of Fridays for Future, for example, appreciated that Angela Merkel took into account the conclusions of scientists on the climate, but they want more,” says Björn Milbradt.

For Peter, the urgency, "is to limit our CO2 emissions".

According to him, Angela Merkel has, despite the exit from nuclear power, slowed down the progress of renewable energies.

"The new chancellor will have to find the right agreement between the country's economic policy and ecological measures," concludes Leonard.


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