German voters will pick Angela Merkel again – not because she’ll make the world a better place but because they think she will protect them

Britain, France and Germany, the three most populous European countries, will all have held important elections this year – in many ways setting the stage for much of what lies ahead for our part of the world. Election campaigns can sometimes be more telling than the statistical results they actually deliver. What do people talk about? What matters to them? Which themes do parties or leaders try to push forward? These days, there are blinkers all around.

Perhaps (or surely) because I’m French, and based in London, I had a hard time understanding how it could possibly be that Brexit as a topic barely featured in the British campaign in June. A process of historical proportions and consequences for the country was all but shunned in the debate. Wonderfully patient colleagues at the Guardian explained it to me: Britain had suffered an immense psychological shock with the 2016 referendum result, and the country needed to look within itself in an attempt to heal. The election campaign was a moment of collective catharsis.

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