Monday, January 17

Angela Merkel, “the stainless” chancellor to leave the scene

Sixteen years in power and a “stainless” popularity: Angela Merkel is about to leave the chancellery, leaving a great void in the world, where she has embodied values ​​and a sense of compromise, but has also been criticized for her lack of vision.

At 67, she will soon hand over to the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz who unveils on Wednesday the program of the new coalition called to govern Germany from December.

With 16 years in the walls of the chancellery in Berlin, Angela Merkel has equaled, within a few weeks, the record of her mentor Helmut Kohl. And is among the heads of government of democratic countries who can boast the longest longevity in power.

Many young Germans only knew her as head of government. They are called the “Merkel generation”. The one who has been elected for 31 years in the Bundestag is given the nickname “Mutti” (Mom) in return by public opinion.

Despite the wear and tear of time, it can boast of popularity in the sky. According to a recent survey by the Pew Institute, it enjoys an international trust score of 72%.

That it seems far this year 2019, when the Chancellor, at the head of a great right-left coalition at the end of the day, seemed overwhelmed by the mobilization of youth for the climate.

– Tremors –

As a symbol of the twilight of her reign, Merkel had been the victim of spectacular tremors during official ceremonies, raising questions about the ability of a Chancellor deemed “almost indefatigable” to complete her fourth and last term.

But the coronavirus pandemic has reshuffled the cards. Three quarters of Germans say they are satisfied with his actions at the head of Germany, according to polls.

Faced with Covid-19, this scientist by training privileged pedagogy and rational demonstrations to lyrical postures.

The lockdown, which reminded Merkel of her life in former communist East Germany, was, by her own admission, “one of the most difficult decisions” in 16 years in power.

– “Merkelism” –

The pandemic and its consequences have also delivered a new demonstration of its pragmatism, its ability to change position to lower the temperature, passed down to posterity under the name of “merkelism”.

Champion of European austerity after the financial crisis of 2008, at the risk of suffocating Greece, Merkel has indeed converted to European fiscal stimulus and debt pooling, the only ones able, according to her, to save the project. European.

In 2011, it was the Fukushima nuclear disaster that convinced her in a few days to initiate Germany’s gradual withdrawal from nuclear energy.

But her historic risk-taking came in the fall of 2015, when Angela Merkel decided to open her country to hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers.

Despite public concerns, she promises to integrate and protect them. “We will get there!”, She assures us. Perhaps the most striking sentence pronounced in power by Merkel, reluctant to inflamed speeches.

Until then, the one who still bears the name of her first husband, had always cultivated an image of a cautious or even cold woman, without roughness, loving potatoes, opera and hiking.

To explain her decision on migrants, taken without really consulting her European partners, she mentioned her “Christian values” and a certain duty to set an example of a country which bears the responsibility for the Holocaust.

This Christian charity, the one that was born on July 17, 1954 under the name of Angela Kasner, takes it from her father, a pastor who voluntarily left to live with his whole family in communist and atheist East Germany to preach the gospel .

“My heritage has shaped me, including the aspiration for freedom during my life in the GDR,” she said on the 30th anniversary of reunification.

But the migratory crisis worries, the fear of Islam and the attacks settle, and the conservative electorate is turning in part towards the extreme right. A taboo is broken in Germany. She is made responsible for it.

– “Teflon” footmuff –

Angela Merkel has however always taken responsibility for her decision and, after the irruption of Donald Trump and Brexit, she is proclaimed “leader of the free world” in a context of rising populism.

Barack Obama, one of the four American presidents she has known since 2005, describes her in her Memoirs as a “reliable, honest, intellectually precise” leader, a “beautiful person”.

The “Teflon chancellor”, on whom the problems slip, remains a political animal as singular as formidable, underestimated by its adversaries.

In 2000, it was by taking advantage of a financial scandal within her party that she took the reins of her center-right party, the Christian Democratic Union. The debutante without charisma then marginalizes all the male hierarchs who overshadow her.

On September 18, 2005, it was against the Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder that she won an electoral victory on the wire. A first success in the general elections, followed by three others in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

Recently, she had confided to withdraw with for only ambition: that one does not say about her that she was “lazy”.

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