The Syrians hoping to elect Germany's new chancellor

After 16 years at the helm of Europe's strongest economy, Angela Merkel is preparing to step down as Germany's Chancellor.

Merkel’s decision to open the door to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in 2015 became a defining issue of Germany’s last federal election in 2017.

Now, six years later, many of the people she welcomed are looking forward to having their voices heard in Sunday's election.

Syrian Hutaf Qassas arrived in 2015. Now he's a manager at a job and language center for fellow refugees.

“I am really excited to take part in the election, really, really a lot. For the first time in my life I know that my voice counts somehow."

Qassas says most Syrians he knows are fans of Merkel and will stay local to her CDU party.

He, however, is unsure.

“Mrs Merkel, as a person I am really really fond of her, as a person. And as a politician and all that, but the way the CDU are being with regards to refugees and the refugee crisis has changed and this is upsetting me. I mean why? It has been super up to now."

Dima Farrah, also from Syria and now working at a Berlin primary school, says her decision will be based on policies, not personalities.

"I am interested in the plans they have, what they want to do. I am not really interested in the individual candidates, the main thing I want to know is what they are going to do for Germany. And how are going to move Germany forward and develop the country further and those things."

A study by the DIW research institute suggests that Syrians are more likely to support Merkel's conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union, which shaped the immigration policy when most of them arrived.

To contrast, migrants from southern Europe and Turkey are more likely to support the more leftist Social Democrats.

The Social Democrats saw their lead over Merkel's conservatives narrow in a poll published on Tuesday (September 21), pointing to a tightening race ahead of Sunday’s election.

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