Often referred to as the Chancellor of Europe, Angela Merkel, is expected to step down as German Chancellor after 16 years in office. For her supporters, she has led a stable Germany through many global crises, provided stable leadership and maintained a “united” Germany. Critics, on the other hand, would say she lacked a bold vision leading to a fractured political landscape.
However, from the start, Merkel’s career has been one full of unforeseen events, a characteristic that remains dominated throughout her political career.
She was elected Chancellor of Germany in November 2005, when female political leaders, although not unusual in Scandinavia, were hardly common in Germany. Among the German rulers she was full of anomalies, a woman, a scientist and a product of East Germany.
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Soon after, the 2008 financial crisis hit Europe and the United States hard. Stock markets around the world have plunged, billions of dollars in market capitalization disappeared. While European countries have been hit hard, Merkel’s Germany has flourished during this time. She introduced economic stimulus packages to fend off a long-term recession in Germany. While most European countries stagnated, Germany had a low unemployment rate and a strong manufacturing base.
âIts great strength is its consistency, but on the other hand, it is also its lack of political imagination. She is certainly not politically creative and wants to stick to the economically orthodox rulebook, âsays Dr Amir Ali, who teaches political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and is the author of the bookâ Brexit and liberal democracy â.
As a dominant force within the EU, Merkel’s career has been marked by one of Europe’s biggest “reforms”: Brexit. Britain decided to sever ties with the EU, as supporters said EU membership hampered UK trade relations outside the trade bloc.
Since Brexit, the UK has seen the resignation of two prime ministers, David Cameroon and Theresa May. As an unstable Britain moved towards an “internal cultural revolution”, EU figurehead Merkel remained steadfast.
Her serious attitudes, often unnoticed by experts, also set her apart from the current trend of populism. With a current trend where Western leaders fall prey to “unreasonable” populists like Trump or Johnson, Merkel’s performance is without tone, as if trying to get her audience to divert their attention elsewhere. She is one of the leaders who exude rationality and pragmatism.
To establish her steadfast and unwavering nature, Amir Ali cites Merkel’s visit to the UK while David Cameron was still UK Prime Minister. âMerkel was addressing a joint press conference with Cameron. One of the members of the British press asked her about her relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron and she suggested that it seemed he was a “bad nephew” to her, “Ali said.
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âCameron found it a lot of fun and also seemed delighted with the analogy when he started to laugh. Merkel, for her part, maintained her serious attitude and almost seemed to disapprove of the comparison in a serious discussion of Anglo-German relations, âAli adds.
Besides her pragmatism and Protestant work ethic, she was known for her resentment against multiculturalism. She claimed that the multicultural approach has failed in Germany, a stance led to a debate on immigration to a country that is home to around 4 million Muslims.
Her career has also seen other major upheavals, including the euro crisis and the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, but she managed to get by without “radical changes”. âMerkel’s great strength has been her steadfastness and the stability she has given Germany. It is interesting to see that his reluctance to bow to the part of the electorate drawn to the far right has not been unfavorable to him, âAli added.
Political commentators say Merkel embodies basic decency, unlike many leaders of the day.
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