The Germans will go to the polls on Sunday, for the most exciting German elections in times. Whoever wins it means the beginning of Angela Merkel‘s end as Chancellor in all cases. News hour looks back on her long reign with her biographer and a German comedian.
According to Merkel’s biographer Ralph Bollmann – whose Dutch translation of his book on Merkel appeared this week – she will go down mainly in history as the crisis manager. “She has led Europe through many crises over the last ten or fifteen years. Starting with the financial crisis, the euro crisis, the refugee crisis and, of course, the corona pandemic. That‘s where she has always provided stability. But that has actually been at the expense of the domestic targets she set herself. Those who are in Germany more often know that digitisation, public transport and the reform of the federation have not taken off.”
By the way, Merkel can make a record at the drop bar. She may be the longest-serving Chancellor Germany has ever had. Whether she’s going to break the record depends on how long it takes for a new government to be formed. If that goes fast, Helmut Kohl stays ahead of her hair length.
Merkel is an example for the comedian Idil Baydar. In her sketches she mocks the typical Merkel gesture, bending her fingers into a heart and holding in front of her abdomen. “I‘ll miss her even though she may have caused a lot of misery. At least in 2015, she showed that she also has a heart as a seasoned politician during the refugee crisis.”
According to Ralph Bollmann, Merkel will not go down in history as refugee chancellor because “the refugees in Germany are well integrated”. “And in addition, there was another crisis, namely the corona pandemic. She wanted to include the refugees who were already in Europe because they were not sent away anyway. And she wanted to leave the European internal borders open. But at the same time, she wanted strict rules to stop new flows of refugees. And she did.”
Angela Merkel is a physicist but in 1990, right after the fall of the Wall, she wanted to explicitly interfere with the politics of Germany to be reunited. The fact that she became active in the CDU party is rather a coincidence. Helmut Kohl gave her the opportunity to make a career at lightning speed, starting as one of the ministers in his cabinet. When Kohl was discredited because of illegal gifts to his party, the CDU, Merkel made sure he disappeared from the scene.
She has often been reprowned for giving her political father a dagger punch in the back. But Bollmann says that picture isn’t right. “She did nothing but save the party. If she hadn‘t, it would have taken a long time to get back from the affair. Merkel himself had an uncontaminated blazon and was able to take Kohl’s place credibly.”
Merkel never told me what she‘s going to do after her career as the most powerful woman in the world. “It’s most likely she‘s going to sleep in first. Because sleep didn’t matter in her reign,” Bollmann thinks.