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Angela Merkel, Future German Ex-Chancellor


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The political obits on Merkel have started, helped by the fact that for the first time in post-WW II history, it's clear that the incumbent chancellor will not be in office by next year (though depending upon the complexity of coalition talks after the 26 September election, a successor won't be sworn in for a few months). Retiring by her own decision - or at least reading the signs correctly to not try another time and be shot down in flames like most of her predecessors - certainly is one thing to set her apart. The length of her reign isn't; Helmut Kohl served four terms, too, and Konrad Adenauer was only made to retire halfway through his fourth as a condition for having to enter into a coalition with the liberal FDP.  All of the above have been CDU chancellors, while their SPD colleagues often didn't even make it completely through a second term.

You might take that as a sign for conservative leanings of German society overall, or maybe the political flexibility of the CDU which is often said to view itself as a "chancellor electing club" - the aim is to rule, nevermind ideology. Merkel has of course strained that principle to the point where even her own party was sometimes on the brink of rebellion. Notably over the bailout of southern Euro members since 2009, maybe more so than even during the refugee crisis of 2015/16; possibly because opposition to debt community was a clearer principle for a party which was torn between Christian compassion and conservative security thought over mass migration, possibly because she actually quickly went for tightening immigration rules as the popular mood shifted, possibly because dissenters did indeed leave for the AfD this time.

Merkel didn't start out with this famous flexibility which later made people say that if she had by chance joined the SPD, her policies in government would have been just the same. In fact her support for a simplified tax system and US intervention in Iraq nearly cost her her first win in 2005, where after an early comfortable lead she just eked out victory over Gerhard Schröder who attacked her for it. She took her cues from that and employed the concept of "asymmetric demobilization" in all subsequent campaigns, making the opposition's voters stay at home because there was no reason to vote against someone who had already taken over all of your own party's positions.

Germans overall certainly honored her consensus-oriented, unexcited-bordering-on-boring style, which Leftists criticized as stifling political change in society - until the push for change began coming from the Right. People have struggled to name actual solid convictions of Merkel, the chancellor. They have general come up with the one of Western liberal democracy, which made foreign observers style her the new leader of the free world when it seemed the US was relinquishing that traditional position; and European unity, which drove her course to not abandon southern EU members over party beliefs during both the Euro and refugee crisis. Some have suggested German responsibility for Israel, and her statement that Israel's security is a German reason of state has gone down as the Merkel Doctrine.

As a protestant East German woman she was't an obvious leader for the traditional CDU, where some never forgave her for rising over the politically dead body of her former patron Kohl after post-chancellorship revelations about a slush fund system publically claimed to have been fed partly by "Jewish inheritances" under his rule. Outside the party, like other women in power she has been criticized by feminists for not ruling "like" a woman, or making a change for her sex. In 2017 she was blasted when she would not identify as a feminist; only this week she allowed that if you defined it as being for equal participation of men and women in society then yes, she was one. Which drew applause at the event that was promptly said elsewhere she didn't deserve. There's no pleasing some people.


Date 14.07.2021

Author Ines Pohl (Kennebunkport)

George W. Bush on Angela Merkel: 'A woman who is not afraid to lead'

Former US President George W. Bush does not usually give interviews. But he made an exception for outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, offering some personal insights on her time in office and their relationship.

The Bush estate is located directly on the Atlantic Ocean near Kennebunkport, a car trip of just less than two hours from Boston, Massachusetts. While our camera team prepares the brightly lit living room with screens of blackout fabric, George W. Bush suddenly appears, an hour ahead of our scheduled interview time. He is wearing shorts and a bright green T-shirt splattered with paint, a cold cigar stub is wedged into the corner of his mouth and he has an iPad in his hand. "I am happy to do [this] for my dear Angela," he declares.

He speaks in a captivating and heartfelt manner, first about German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then about his artwork. Bush shows us his paintings on the iPad, all while talking about how working at the easel structures his day and how his paintbrush has become a means of political expression for him since he left the White House. 

As he goes off to change his clothes for our television interview, I find myself thinking: "No ice needs to be broken here."

'Not afraid to lead'

George W. Bush generally keeps his distance from the political arena. These days, when the 43rd president of the United States gives interviews, it is usually only to discuss his art. But this time around, he is making an exception for our documentary on Angela Merkel. He welcomes us into his home and is sure to give us plenty of his time.

"Merkel brought class and dignity to a very important position; [she] made very hard decisions, and did so with what's best for Germany, and did so based upon principle," Bush recalls fondly. "She is a compassionate leader, a woman who is not afraid to lead."





Date 06.09.2021

Author Christoph Hasselbach

German election: What is Angela Merkel's foreign policy legacy?

In her 16 years as chancellor, Angela Merkel has made her mark on German foreign policy. The country's role in the world has grown significantly, as have global political challenges.

Hardly anyone outside Germany knew who Angela Merkel was when she first became chancellor in 2005. And hardly anyone could have imagined how much she would shape world politics.

She quickly found her feet, both at home and abroad. From the beginning, she largely shaped her government's approach to foreign policy herself, rather than leave it to the foreign minister. As host of the G8 Summit, held in the Baltic coast resort of Heiligendamm in 2007, she was already dealing confidently with the most important heads of state and government in the world. In retrospect, it looks like an almost idyllic world.

Germany takes the lead in the euro crisis

However, the chancellor would soon have to switch to crisis mode: In 2008 the global financial crisis broke out. The euro, one of the strongest symbols of European unification, came under pressure. "If the euro fails, then Europe fails," Merkel warned. 

Under Merkel, the nation with the strongest economy in the EU reluctantly took on the leadership role in Europe. On one hand, the German government forced tough austerity and reform measures on the particularly indebted countries: in Greece, some critics even drew parallels with the German occupation during World War II. On the other hand, Merkel approved extensive European aid. Germany's liability for the debts of other countries increased massively.

The fact that the remainder of the EU, on the whole, accepted Germany's new leadership role is also due to Merkel's sensitive demeanor. She combines a "culture of restraint" with a "culture of responsibility," as political scientist Johannes Varwick from the University of Halle put it in an interview with DW.





The Era of Missed Opportunities

A First Look at Angela Merkel's Legacy

Angela Merkel's 16 years as German chancellor have been characterized by crisis after crisis, most of them global in nature. Her intellect has been a critical tool in addressing those challenges, but her follow through left a lot to be desired.

By Dirk Kurbjuweit

06.09.2021, 16.33 Uhr

The Merkel era was a time of unseen menaces. It was riddled with crises that were invisible at first, which is what made them seem so sinister. That was true for the financial crisis and the euro crisis, for the pandemic and for climate change. Something was happening out there, but it was really only understood by the experts and the scientists.

The rest of us were left with a feeling of uncertainty, even fear. Will my life be affected? All of these crises held the potential for personal catastrophe: for the loss of job and assets, for illness and even death.

Angela Merkel had much to recommend her as the perfect chancellor for such an era, the potential to be a godsend of history. In her first life, she worked as a scientist, as a woman of numbers, tables and curves. She is extremely intelligent and imbued with rationality. Unseen menaces aren’t enough to frighten her because she is able to discern their true nature and understand the facts behind them.

So, was Merkel the right chancellor for this period, for the years between 2005 and 2021, a time of crises and catastrophes the likes of which postwar Germany has never experienced? She will step down in just a few weeks, as soon as the German parliament elects her successor this autumn. Merkel will then retire – for the time being, at least – from a political career that has spanned 31 years.

Her breathtaking career began in 1990, immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when Merkel ended her career as a physicist at the East German Academy of Sciences and switched to politics.

Her rise was something of an irony of history: A woman from the East leading the West through its greatest crisis? Besides the unseen menaces that have characterized her tenure, there has been a second significant development over the last two decades: The liberal democracies in Europe, North America and Australia have been deeply shaken. That upheaval began exactly 20 years ago, with the Islamist terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and continued with Russia’s new aggressiveness, the rapid rise of China as a superpower and the failed attempt to westernize parts of the Muslim world in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

The West hasn’t been in particularly great shape on the inside, either: Brexit, Donald Trump, right-wing populism in many countries, the major questions posed to the Western way of life and economy by the financial crisis and climate change, the doubts as to whether liberal democracies are efficient enough to be able to combat pandemics effectively. All these factors have gnawed at the self-confidence of the major Western alliances, the European Union and NATO.

It was Merkel’s job to find answers – first and foremost for Germany, but also for Europe and the world. It won’t be clear for a few years, or even decades, how well she did that job. History often takes its time before passing judgement. It’s not possible to determine all the consequences of Merkel’s actions – they may have to be re-evaluated at some point in the future through the lens of what her successors have done. But it is possible – and, with the end of her tenure approaching, appropriate – to attempt a preliminary assessment of her legacy.

The following is an initial look at Merkel’s legacy, presented in seven chapters. Her tenure has been largely shaped by seven catastrophes or crises: the financial crisis; the euro crisis; the consistent threat presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin; the huge influx of refugees; Donald Trump, whose name is used here synonymously with the attack on liberal democracy as a whole; climate change; and the coronavirus pandemic.

Merkel had to get through all of that. They dominated and cast a shadow over her tenure. Such was her time, her epoch.





Date 08.09.2021

Germany's Angela Merkel declares 'yes, I am a feminist'

After years of shying away from the question, Merkel is now taking a clear stance on feminism in her last days in office. Her comments came during an event with Nigerian writer and feminist icon Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Germany's chancellor may have been hesitant to describe herself as a feminist in the past, but as Angela Merkel counts down her last few days in office, it would appear she is making her position known.

Speaking to reporters after an event with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Düsseldorf on Wednesday, Merkel spoke about her new perspective on feminism.

"Essentially, it's about the fact that men and women are equal, in the sense of participation in society and in life in general. And in that sense I can say: 'Yes, I'm a feminist.'"

'We should all be feminists'

The comments were a turnaround from an awkward exchange at the Women20 summit in Berlin in 2017, when Merkel was asked directly if she was a feminist.

In that instance, Merkel did not answer the question directly, prompting criticism and disappointment from many.

At Wednesday's event Germany's first female chancellor was more candid and admitted her reticent approach from the past.

"I was a bit shyer when I said it. But it's more thought-out now. And in that sense, I can say that we should all be feminists."



Edited by BansheeOne
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Angela Merkel: German chancellor in times of crisis

By Thomas Hasel | 2h ago

As chancellor, Angela Merkel has led Germany through many international crises. How successful was she? A DW documentary interviewed former heads of state, historians and journalists.

"Angela Merkel will be remembered as a great European stateswoman," Francois Hollande says. "She kept the European Union together — despite the numerous crises we experienced," the former French president argues in the DW documentary Angela Merkel —  Navigating a World in Crisis.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair agrees: "It is still a remarkable achievement to hold Europe together in this most difficult set of years Europe went through." Britain left the EU while she was in office, however, even if Merkel would have liked to avoid Brexit by making concessions to Blair's successor, David Cameron.

'Holding Europe together'

Taking stock of the 16 years of Angela Merkel's chancellorship is by no means an easy task — which is why the DW documentary spoke with many who have shared the international political stage with the chancellor over this period of more than a decade and a half.

In lengthy interviews, numerous former heads of state and government from around the world, as well as international historians and journalists, gave exclusive insights into the Merkel era. The 87-minute documentary brings them together for the first time. What is striking is that despite political differences of opinion, the interviewees all pay respect to Merkel as a person and to her achievements.


Problem-solver or someone lacking a strategic vision?

"Nobody could deny Angela Merkel's political competence, her political skill, her tactical brilliance," argues Niall Ferguson, a British historian. But: "What I think has been lacking has been strategic vision."

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis also criticized Merkel's lack of a vision for the European Union. He would have liked her to be a "passionate European" with much more commitment to making the EU a political union, he says. Merkel faced a lot of international criticism for her initial wait-and-see approach to the inevitable financial aid for heavily indebted Greece before demanding a strict austerity course from the country. In the end, however, she agreed to billions of euros in aid, most of which came from Germany.

Cooperation instead of confrontation

When European-Russian relations deteriorated dramatically in 2013 as a result of the military conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, it was Merkel who kept talks going with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Her efforts were rewarded in early 2015 with a fragile cease-fire agreement for eastern Ukraine.

Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and prime minister, praised her negotiating skills. "She possesses one particular trait that is good for politicians — first, she knows how to listen, and second, she can hold herself back."

Controversial decisions

Yet Angela Merkel polarized, too. When she decided in late summer 2015 not to close the borders to refugees from Syria and other countries, she faced a great deal of rejection in Germany in general and within her own party. On the international stage, her decision earned her almost universal admiration. "I know that this decision was not easy for Chancellor Merkel; it took a lot of courage," says Jordan's Queen Rania.

"My first reaction was, 'There's a woman with a big heart,'" says former US President George W. Bush.


The documentary will be broadcast on DW Documentary's YouTube channel from September 17 onward in the following languages: English, Arabic, German, Spanish and Hindi. From September 18 onwards, the film can be seen on DW's television channels and can be accessed online through our Media Center. 


Edited by BansheeOne
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The abovementioned docu dropped. I think some of the non-politicians interviewed overestimate the extent of German influence on the world; sometimes there's a vibe of "Merkel failed because she didn't create world peace". Overall interesting, but necessarily a bit shallow in dealing with lots of different issues over the years.


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She left a vacuum, without her CDU candidate can not into voting properly


One of the men who could end up being Germany's next chancellor folded his ballot incorrectly, accidentally revealing to the world who he had voted for. Officials have said his vote is still valid.

Lucky winds.


The way Laschet voted contravened the system of the secret ballot. The local returning officer should have prevented the ballot from being cast.

However, the Federal Returning Officer cleared up the issue after a "well known politician voted, as expected, for his own party." They concluded that they could not see any attempt to influence the election in the mistake.


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László Földi, the government's favorite ex-commie intel guy said in an interview in the state television, that Merkel did more damage to Germany than Hitler did, because she opened the borders for immigrants. Also hinted that some external powers (read Soros) controlled "this Merkel person".

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Not sure if this is tongue-in-cheek; I suspect it's actually serious lauding with reverse praise.


Angela Merkel deserves the Nobel Prize for Peace


OCTOBER 1, 2021 12:22

The departing German leader was no rebel, orator, or original thinker, but morally she was a giant.

The assistant professorship that is any doctoral student’s wish was one nod away from her when the future Angela Merkel (Kasner, at the time) was asked to double as an informant for the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police.

The 24-year-old physicist, whose disdain for melodrama would later become legend, said no, but instead of adding a provocative statement just said: “I can’t keep secrets.”

It was 1978 and the Stasi’s spooks could not imagine the real secret, that they were facing a united Germany’s future matriarch and a post-communist Europe’s undeclared queen.

Now, as her 16-year chancellorship draws to a close, Merkel is set to be remembered as a vestige of an era of optimism that was as brave and inspiring as it was brief and naïve.

IRONICALLY, the East German revolution’s poster girl was no revolutionary.

Yes, she told the Stasi no that day, but she joined no underground, made no active protest and never claimed to have braved Soviet repression the way Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or Andrei Sakharov did.

Merkel was no rebel. Boring and uncharismatic, the East German lawmaker who became West German leader Helmut Kohl’s briefcase holder was no firebrand or orator. She swept no audience off its feet and was no trigger-happy warrior, in any sense and on any front. She was no Margaret Thatcher.

She was also no exhibitionist. Merkel was no Willy Brandt, who fell on his knees in front of the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial, and she was no Ronald Reagan, who located his loud cry “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” at the foothills of the monstrosity that Merkel knew all too well.

Merkel was also no originator of ideas.

Unlike Otto von Bismarck, who created the modern social safety net; unlike Konrad Adenauer, who led the rise of New Germany and the emergence of the European Community and unlike Helmut Kohl, who spearheaded Germany’s reunification, Merkel created little, focusing instead on the preservation of other people’s legacies.


Merkel’s titanic effort to keep the EU and its currency intact was challenged not only by the imbalances between its richer north and poorer south, but also by the deepening chasm between its liberal West and conservative East.

The common denominator between these setbacks is not that they happened because of Merkel’s mistakes, but that they happened despite her resistance.

Now, chances that the trends she defied will accelerate are higher than the chances that they will be offset. In fact, chances are Merkel will eventually loom not only as no Reagan, Adenauer or De Gaulle, but as a version of Franz Josef, the Hapsburg monarch whose 68-year reign of prosperity and seeming stability actually concealed a decaying empire’s approaching demise.

Like the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its twilight, Merkel’s European Union may have grown too big, too varied, and too loose to last; an optimistic era’s utopia predestined to make way for the cynicism that was its aftermath.

It was between these two poles, the optimism that animated her political emergence and the pessimism that overshadows her departure, that Merkel made her career’s one big move, when she opened her country’s doors to more than a million Muslim refugees.

YES, it was a gamble that fueled xenophobia, sparked violence, and might ultimately prove to have accelerated the European Union’s disintegration. And never mind that less than a decade since their arrival half of the new immigrants are already gainfully employed and paying taxes.

Even if this experiment proves to have been a social failure and a political disaster, morally speaking it was an act of humanity, generosity, humility, and nobility that no one before Merkel, from Thatcher and Reagan to Adenauer and Brandt, ever did; a gamble worthy of the unassuming scientist whose life at the free world’s summit never made her forget her origins in dictatorship’s despair.

That is why Angela Merkel deserves the Nobel Peace Prize more than all the leaders whose political gravitas she didn’t possess, whose intellectual originality she didn’t display, and whose historic imprint she didn’t etch.


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Equestrian statue of Merkel unveiled at the Tempel Museum Etsdorf, Bavaria, an art exhibition dedicated to the history of democracy in Europe. The artist claims he isn't sure himself whether it's more honor or irony. I'm pretty sure it's the latter. 😁


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Well, the artist said it depicted her "dressed in her typical pants suit, her hands shaped into a Merkel diamond, deliberately without a pedestal; as grounded as she shaped politics, she is presented as a rider - on a piece of lawn looking east, firmly enthroned even without a saddle and bridle, and in the safe stance of her mount, an American Quarter Horse."

You could probably read something profound into the fact that the statue was 3D-printed from lightweight concrete, too. 

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Merkel never fought in the traditional sense (literal of figuratively) for anything. Of course she influenced major course changes in politics and that of course requires building a power base and then using it. So, not saying that she was unprincipled or incapable of using political power. But she never was "a fighter".

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