Quite a surprise that Pope Benedict is passing the baton this way. You wonder what's behind the scenes to break with a 600 year precedent. A beef Ratzinger's always had, that Pope's spent their last years on autopilot? Afraid of other people running it while he's frail? Wanting to have influence on who his successor is? If I had to pick one, the last one would be high on my list as a factor.
I've never really liked Ratzinger. I suspect he would undo a lot of Vatican II if he could. Certainly not a voice of progress. Certainly not going to move the church forward.
My guess is that they will elect someone like Peter Turkson from Ghana, Africa. He's a little more moderate than Benedict, which works well for me.