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On 24 September 2017, a general election was held in Germany. Instead of an expected government coalition between the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Liberals (FDP) and the Green Party, a grand coalition (“GroKo”) between the CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD) entered government in March 2018, and Angela Merkel was sworn in her for her fourth term as German chancellor. With rising populism and nationalism in Europe, and an increasingly unstable global order, the first round of failed exploratory talks came about like a harbinger of further difficult times for Germany. Since then, the new government has to deal not only with right-wing Parliamentarians from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) that entered the Bundestag (and is being represented in all 16 state parliaments from October 2018), but also with numerous security challenges in Europe. Perhaps chief among these, and although President Donald Trump is more than two years in office, is that it remains difficult to judge whether European NATO allies can still rely on the full support of the United States. Thus, Germany as a middle power in Europe has to consider the possibility of playing a more significant leadership role in the Euro-Atlantic space.
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