Posted November 21, 2020 9:28 am by

Merkel, Germany’s ‘eternal’ chancellor, marks 15 years in power

Berlin, Germany, Nov 21 – In power so long she has been dubbed Germany’s “eternal chancellor”, Angela Merkel marks 15 years at the helm of Europe’s top economic power Sunday with her popularity and public trust scaling new heights as her remaining time in office ticks down.

With the coronavirus raging around the world, the pandemic has played to her strengths as a crisis manager with a head for science-based solutions.

Merkel, 66, has said she will step down as chancellor when her current mandate runs out in 2021, and leave politics altogether.

Assuming she finishes out her fourth term, she will tie Helmut Kohl’s longevity record for a post-war leader, with an entire generation of young Germans never knowing another person at the top.

Once unthinkable calls for her to stand for yet another mandate can now be heard, however, spurred by her steady handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Germany, where infection levels and deaths have remained lower than those of most European partners.

The vast majority of Germans say they put great stock in her “hammer and dance” strategy of tighter and looser restrictions based on infection levels, which she this month called “among the most difficult decisions of my time in office”.

– Political centre –

The brainy, pragmatic and unflappable Merkel has served for many in recent years as a welcome counter-balance to the big, brash men of global politics, from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin, as liberals have looked to her as the “leader of the free world”.

A Pew Research Center poll last month showed large majorities in most Western countries having “confidence in Merkel to do the right thing regarding world affairs”.

Merkel, with her pragmatic and cautious style, seemed to have perfected the art of staying in power in a wealthy, ageing nation that tends to favour continuity over change © AFP/File / Tobias SCHWARZ

A trained quantum chemist raised behind the Iron Curtain, Merkel has long been in sync with her change-averse electorate as a guarantor of stability and prosperity.

Her major policy shifts have reflected the wishes of a changing society — among them phasing out nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima disaster — and shifted her CDU firmly to the political centre.

Before the pandemic her boldest move, keeping open German borders in 2015 to more than one million asylum seekers, seemed set to determine her legacy.

– ‘Austerity queen’ –

Singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann said Merkel “showed the world the friendly face Read More…Merkel, Germany’s ‘eternal’ chancellor, marks 15 years in power  Merkel, Germany’s ‘eternal’ chancellor, marks 15 years in power  Merkel, Germany’s ‘eternal’ chancellor, marks 15 years in power  Merkel, Germany’s ‘eternal’ chancellor, marks 15 years in power