Merkel, 15 years as German Chancellor and a stainless popularity

Berlin

Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor (head of Government) of Germany since November 22, 2005, seemed finished a few months ago due to the erosion of power, but the successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed her to regain her “stainless popularity” and to return to occupy the center of the political scene.

2019 seems to have been a long way off for the German leader, at the head of a great coalition that showed signs of exhaustion, overwhelmed by the mobilization of young people in favor of the climate.

As a symbol of the twilight of her regime, Merkel, 66, was affected by uncontrollable tremors during official ceremonies, raising questions about the ability of this indefatigable ruler to conclude her fourth and final term before her political withdrawal. in September 2021.

But the coronavirus pandemic catapulted his popularity: more than seven Germans in ten say they are satisfied with their management of the epidemic.

Even in Germany there are voices demanding a fifth term, but the chancellor rules it out. In September, when she leaves politics, the first woman to lead Germany will have equaled the longevity record in the Chancellery – 16 years – of her mentor, Helmut Köhl.

This scientist carried out a flawless management of COVID-19 and knew how to communicate with pedagogy, favoring rational demonstrations to face the “greatest challenge” that Germany has experienced since the end of the Second War.

Despite a confinement that reminded Merkel of her life in the ex-RDA and that constituted, according to her, “one of the most difficult decisions” in 15 years of government, Germany registered fewer cases and deaths than its European neighbors.

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This fervent defender of European austerity after the financial crisis of 2008, changed the paradigm and promoted this boreal spring the increase in spending and the mutualisation of debt, the only thing, according to her, that can save the European project.

In 2011, the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan convinced her to initiate Germany’s phasing out of nuclear power.

But perhaps his most daring political gamble came in 2015 when he decided to open the borders to hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers. Despite public opinion fears, he promised to integrate and protect them.

Until then, this chemistry doctor who still bears the name of her first husband and has no children had cultivated an image of a cautious and even cold woman, who loves opera and hiking.

To explain the decision on the migrants, he invoked his “Christian values” and a certain obligation of exemplarity of a country that carries the stigma of the Holocaust.

This Christian Merkel charity comes from her father, an austere pastor who voluntarily went to live with his entire family in communist and atheist East Germany to preach the Gospel.

However, fear of Islam and the attacks led some of the conservative electorate to take refuge in the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which in September 2017 reached Parliament.

However, after the Donald Trump earthquake and Brexit, Merkel, who always assumed her decision on refugees, was enthroned by the press and many politicians as the “leader of the free world” in the face of the rise of populism. (AFP)

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