Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, has long been Europe's most powerful voice, both for her management skills and for her lack of competition. A number of factors, however, seemed to be cracking the 65-year-old lady's competing armor, always wearing a suit and low heels and without a hint of glamor, who is completing fifteen years in government. The first crack was felt when she scored out date: two years ago, announced that he would not run for a new deputy mandate, which ends in 2021, relinquishing the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the command of the country. Then, in public, he went through three embarrassing episodes of uncontrollable shaking – he assured that the accesses did not hinder his performance at all and went ahead. In the midst of all this, the CDU lost its coalition partner, fared worse than expected in regional elections and saw the far right becoming a real threat.
Just when I thought Merkel had taken the lame position duck – the "lame duck" who does not follow the pack and is subject to attacks by predators, a phrase that in English means a political expressionless – behold, she again firm at the top: according to recent research, it has the approval of 79% of Germans and walks, instead, to an end of the most exceptional career. "Merkel will never be seen as a charismatic leader, but she knows how to manage day-to-day politics like nobody else," says Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was his defense minister between 2009 and 2011.
The way she conducted the fight against the new coronavirus contributed greatly to the renewed admiration for the chancellor. Combining clarity of decision with cutting-edge technology and quality medical service, she contained the contagion, limited the number of deaths and prevented the repetition, in her country, of the scenes of suffering seen in the neighbors – breaking, she won 11 points in the popularity only since March. After the worst of the pandemic is now Merkel who is in charge of the bold reconstruction plan of the economies of the European Union. Together with the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, he announced the injection of 500 billion euros for the countries of the South, the most affected, under conditions much less rigid than the usual ones – Merkel has always been a fierce guardian of the key to the block's safe.
In the same EU, proving that does not point unknotted, Merkel assured his legacy installing as president of the executive body, the European Commission, former minister of his government, Ursula von der Leyen. In another successful move, the economic recovery project has an ecological flavor – an issue that mobilizes European youth -, providing vast resources for green industries and other steps towards the total neutralization of carbon emissions in the 27 members of the EU. By the way, the environment is one of the flags of the French Macron, who dreams of one day occupying the role of a Merkel in the EU. To top it off, the German chancellor snubbed Donald Trump – a figure of very few friends in Europe – by announcing that he would not be meeting the G7 scheduled for June (and postponed to September) in Washington. It was the first to do so, citing the need to monitor pandemic control, and thus thwarted the American president's plans to use the presence of the most important world leaders as a demonstration of normalcy in the United States.
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The daughter of a Lutheran pastor, Merkel was raised in East Germany, the communist side of the country, and earned a Ph.D. in quantum chemistry by the University of Leipzig – the origin, according to scholars of European politics, of its exceptional analytical capacity and the scientific method of making decisions. Each challenge is subjected to comparisons, projection of scenarios, weighting of risks and long reflection, with no room for emotions – all spheres of government are guided by technical criteria. In doing so, she knew, for example, how to take advantage of China's rise, which led bilateral trade to surpass 200 billion euros a year. It has also become the main bridge between the West and Russia (she speaks Russian fluently), the only head of state Vladimir Putin deals with deference. Regarding Trump, he soon realized that, with him, the partnership between Europe and the United States was no longer the same and did not insist on an approximation. "Merkel is extremely pragmatic and goal-oriented," says Dan Hough, professor of political science at the University of Sussex.
Despite the good phase of the Chancellor, the internal problems continue and the CDU is going through a difficult time. In February, the successor to Merkel anointed personally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (the name is difficult to pronounce usually abbreviated to AKK), withdrew the application for the post of foreign minister and left the presidency of the party after an arm of Legend allied in a regional election, to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) – today the third German political force. Party stumbles did not scratch Merkel's image. Mutti (Mother), as the Germans dubbed the Chancellor, who has no children, will put order in the house.
Published in VEJA of 17 June 2020, edition nº 2691