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The slate of candidates vying to succeed Angela Merkel is now clear — and so is the unenviable pile of global problems the eventual winner will inherit.

Merkel’s impending departure after some 16 years as German chancellor brings into play not simply the direction of Europe’s biggest economy, but the balance of power on the continent. With the world increasingly defined by a great power rivalry reminiscent of the 19th century, the winner of September’s federal election will face international demands from the get-go.

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