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World 'Eternal' chancellor: Germany's Merkel prepares to leave the stage

08:30  23 september  2021
08:30  23 september  2021 Source:   afp.com

'One of us': Merkel hometown a refuge from wild world

  'One of us': Merkel hometown a refuge from wild world There's a place just 90 minutes' drive from Berlin where Angela Merkel can escape the crucible of her office, see the people who've known her longest and let her hair down. - 'Tenacity' - Merkel frequently flees the pressure cooker of Berlin for Templin, just 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the north, at the weekends with her chemist husband Joachim Sauer. Except for attending church, the couple largely keep to themselves."She's completely normal. When she goes shopping, you hardly notice her, she's practically incognito," said 68-year-old pensioner Bernd Retter, who said he attended the same school as the future German leader.

Merkel started as a contemporary of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac when she became Germany ' s youngest and first female chancellor in 2005. She was called "the leader of the free world" as authoritarian populists were on the march in Europe and the United States but Angela Merkel is wrapping up a historic 16 years in power with an uncertain legacy at home and abroad. In office so long she was dubbed Germany ' s " eternal chancellor ", Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate.

In office so long she was dubbed Germany ' s " eternal chancellor ", Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate. Instead, Merkel will pass the baton as the first German chancellor to step down entirely by choice, with a whole generation of voters never knowing another person at the top. Her supporters say she provided steady, pragmatic leadership through countless global crises as a moderate and unifying figure.

She was called "the leader of the free world" as authoritarian populists were on the march in Europe and the United States, but Angela Merkel is wrapping up a historic 16 years in power with an uncertain legacy at home and abroad.

Angela Merkel will become the first German chancellor to step down entirely by choice © HANNIBAL HANSCHKE Angela Merkel will become the first German chancellor to step down entirely by choice

In office so long she was dubbed Germany's "eternal chancellor", Merkel, 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she sought it.

Many hail Merkel as a welcome counter-balance to the big, brash men of global politics © Dominique JACOVIDES Many hail Merkel as a welcome counter-balance to the big, brash men of global politics

Instead, Merkel will pass the baton as the first German chancellor to step down entirely by choice, with a whole generation of voters never knowing another person at the top.

Crucial debate for Merkel party to turn race around

  Crucial debate for Merkel party to turn race around With a week to go until election day, Germany's top parties will face off in a televised debate on Sunday with the race to succeed Angela Merkel in a dead heat. The frontrunner by a hair, Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats turned in solid if low-key performances in the previous two debates and came out on top in post-broadcast viewer surveys. Armin Laschet of Merkel's conservatives attempted unsuccessfully in both of the previous confrontations to claw back a poll lead he enjoyed until July when a series of gaffes sent his approval rating into free fall.

In office so long she was dubbed Germany ’ s “ eternal chancellor ”, Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate. Instead, Merkel will pass the baton as the first German chancellor to step down entirely by choice, with a whole generation of voters never knowing another person at the top. Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades.

In office so long she was dubbed Germany ' s " eternal chancellor ", Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate. Instead, Merkel will pass the baton as the first German chancellor to step down entirely by choice, with a Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades. What is certain is that she leaves behind a fractured political landscape, with the question of who will

Angela Merkel standing in front of a crowd: Merkel, with her pragmatic and cautious style, seems to have perfected the art of staying in power in a nation that tends to favour continuity over change © FRANCK FIFE Merkel, with her pragmatic and cautious style, seems to have perfected the art of staying in power in a nation that tends to favour continuity over change

Her supporters say she provided steady, pragmatic leadership through countless global crises as a moderate and unifying figure.

Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades.

What is certain is that she leaves behind a fractured political landscape. It is also because of the long shadow she casts that her party's candidate, Armin Laschet, has struggled to sharpen his own profile.

His Social Democratic opponent, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, has actively -- and perhaps successfully -- sold himself as the real continuity candidate.

How Germans will look back on Angela Merkel

  How Germans will look back on Angela Merkel When the German chancellor steps down, how will history remember her? Four experts have their say.When Mrs Merkel steps down after 16 years in power, how will history remember her?

In office so long she was dubbed Germany ' s " eternal chancellor ", Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate. Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades. What is certain is that she leaves behind a fractured political landscape, with the question of who will govern Germany next wide open just weeks before the September 26 election.

In office so long she was dubbed Germany ' s " eternal chancellor ", Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate. Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades. What is certain is that she leaves behind a fractured political landscape, with the question of who will govern Germany next wide open just weeks before the September 26 election.

Assuming she stays on to hand over power, Merkel will tie or exceed Helmut Kohl's longevity record for a post-war leader, depending on how long the upcoming coalition negotiations drag on.

- 'Do the right thing' -

The 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.

A Pew Research Center poll this week showed large majorities in most democracies around the globe having "confidence in Merkel to do the right thing in world affairs".

However, the last days of her tenure have also been marred by what Merkel called the "bitter, dramatic and terrible" return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan -- a debacle in which she shares the blame as Germany completed its evacuation.

Merkel has said she is saying goodbye to politics altogether © STEFANIE LOOS Merkel has said she is saying goodbye to politics altogether

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.

Germany readies for election that will end Merkel era

  Germany readies for election that will end Merkel era Germany goes to the polls on Sunday in an election that will see Angela Merkel step down after 16 years in power, sparking a knife-edge race to lead Europe's biggest economy. Western allies are watching nervously, wary of an uncertain outcome and coalition negotiations that would blunt for weeks, if not months participation on the international scene by Europe's biggest power of 83 million people. For Merkel's centre-right CDU-CSU bloc, the stakes could hardly be higher.

In office so long she was dubbed Germany ’ s “ eternal chancellor ”, Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate. Instead, Merkel will pass the baton as the first German chancellor to step down entirely See also on The Local: Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades. What is certain is that she leaves behind a fractured political landscape, with the question of

In office so long she was dubbed Germany ' s " eternal chancellor ", Merkel , 67, leaves with her popularity so resilient she would likely have won a record fifth term had she wanted to extend her mandate. Yet critics argue a muddle-through style of leadership, pegged to the broadest possible consensus, lacked the bold vision to prepare Europe and its top economy for the coming decades. What is certain is that she leaves behind a fractured political landscape, with the question of who will govern Germany next wide open just weeks before the September 26 election.

Her major policy shifts reflected the wishes of large German majorities -- among them phasing out nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima disaster -- and attracted a broad new coalition of women and urban voters to the once arch-conservative CDU.

Merkel started as a contemporary of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac when she became Germany's youngest and first female chancellor in 2005 © BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI Merkel started as a contemporary of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac when she became Germany's youngest and first female chancellor in 2005

- 'Austerity queen' -

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

But while many Germans rallied to Merkel's "We can do it" cry, the move also emboldened an anti-migrant party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), ushering a far-right bloc into parliament for the first time since World War II.

Angela Merkel, Angela Merkel, Angela Merkel are posing for a picture © Gal ROMA Angela Merkel

At the same time, hardline leaders such as Hungary's Viktor Orban accused her of "moral imperialism" with her welcoming stance.

Six years on, she lamented this month, the European Union appears no closer to a unified policy on migration.

Angela Merkel calls to vote Armin Laschet (CDU) for "Germany remains stable"

 Angela Merkel calls to vote Armin Laschet (CDU) for © Thomas Kienzle / AFP The German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting of his party, in Munich, September 24, 2021. to two days of the legislative elections in Germany, the Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against the scenario of a victory of the Social candidate OLAF SCHOLZ, at the top of the polls, supporting the conservative candidate of his party, the CDU.

The woman once known as the "climate chancellor" for pushing renewables also faces a mass movement of young activists arguing she has failed to face up to the climate emergency, with Germany not even meeting its own emissions-reduction commitments.

Merkel became Europe's go-to leader during the eurozone crisis when Berlin championed swingeing spending cuts in return for international bailout loans for debt-mired countries.

Angry protesters dubbed her Europe's "austerity queen" and caricatured her in Nazi garb while defenders credit her with holding the currency union together.

More recently, despite admitted missteps in the coronavirus pandemic including a sluggish vaccine roll-out, Germany's death toll has remained lower than those of many European partners relative to population.

- Kohl's 'girl' to 'Mummy' -

Merkel, the EU's and G7's most senior leader, started as a contemporary of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac when she became Germany's youngest and first female chancellor in 2005.

She was born Angela Dorothea Kasner on July 17, 1954 in the port city of Hamburg, the daughter of a Lutheran clergyman and a school teacher.

Her father moved the family to a small-town parish in the communist East at a time when tens of thousands were headed the other way.

She excelled in mathematics and Russian, which has helped her maintain the dialogue with the other veteran on the world stage, Russia's Putin, who was a KGB officer in Dresden when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Merkel kept the name of her first husband, whom she married in 1977 and divorced five years later.

After the fall of the wall, Merkel, who was working in a chemistry lab, joined a pro-democracy group that would merge with Kohl's Christian Democrats.

The Protestant from the East whom Kohl nicknamed his "girl" would later be elected leader of a party until then dominated by western Catholic patriarchs.

As she rose to power, party rivals sneeringly called her "Mutti" (Mummy) behind her back but she deftly -- some said ruthlessly -- eliminated potential challengers.

Although her name has come up on wish lists for key EU or United Nations posts, Merkel has said she will leave politics altogether.

Asked on her final trip to Washington in June what she looked forward to most, she replied "not having to constantly make decisions".

bur-dlc/hmn/bp

German elections: Big setback for Merkel’s conservatives as center-left party comes out on top .
Germany’s center-left Social Democrats narrowly defeated outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right bloc in national elections, giving them the edge in the hard fought race to determine who will succeed the leader of the European Union's strongest economy and most populous country . While there were no big winners in Sunday’s elections, there was a clear loser – Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) - which had their worst showing in history. The party, which runs on a combined ticket with its Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), won 24.

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