To the sounds of a punk hit from the GDR times, “mommy” was resigned. She has only a few days to perform her duties, then Olaf Scholz will take over as chancellor. Angela Merkel has been in power for 16 years, breaking many records – the first woman to head the German government, the most influential politician according to Forbes. Starve out opponents, but always looked for a compromise. Critics in Germany will remember her mistakes too. Some say they are unforgivable.
“During the sixteen years as chancellor, many events have happened, often quite difficult. Both from a political and a human point of view. I would like to urge you to look at the world from the perspective of other people in the future,” Angela Merkel said, saying goodbye to her political career. in the courtyard of the Ministry of Defense. The ceremony called “Evening Dawn” is the highest sign of respect from the military. Traditionally, the orchestra of the Ministry of Defense can order some musical compositions.
The choice of the chancellor surprised many. A well-known fan of classical music preferred the hit of “the mother of German punk” Nina Hagen “You Forgot Your Color Film”, written in the GDR. No hidden meaning – Merkel explained that she liked this song in her youth.
Angela Kasner was born in 1954 in Hamburg, but the family soon moved to the GDR. The father, a Protestant priest, was transferred to a church in East Germany. He preferred not to fight, but to improve relations with the authorities. This also influenced the views of her daughter. She understood: it was necessary to look for compromises.
Angela was a member of a pioneer organization, then in an analogue of the Komsomol – the Union of Free German Youth. Best of all she was given Russian and mathematics. But she decided to enter the physics department of the Karl Marx University of Leipzig. She defended her dissertation and took up science.
Merkel (the surname of Ulrich’s first husband – Ed.) Came into big politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many attributed its rapid rise to the patronage of Helmut Kohl. In 1991, the Chancellor appoints “his girl”, as he paternally called Angela, the Minister of Women and Youth Affairs.
With the nickname “girl Kolya” she will break up once and for all in 1999. In the elections to the Bundestag, the CDU / CSU bloc showed the worst result in half a century. In addition, it turned out that Kohl, bypassing the Law on Political Parties, received several million German marks from some sponsors.
Casting aside all sorts of sentiments, Merkel quickly dissociated herself from her mentor. Through the press, she sharply criticized Kohl’s behavior and demanded his resignation. The politician perceived such “black ingratitude” as a betrayal. They never made up.
Favorite “mom” of Germany
As head of government in 2005, Merkel became the first female chancellor and the first leader of Germany with a science education.
The Germans liked her charm and modesty. Receiving a good income, she did not pursue luxury: she lived in her own, not an office apartment. More than once, the Network has received pictures in which a politician walks through an ordinary supermarket, buys cottage cheese, vegetables, fruits, sweets. Mutti (“Mom”), as her compatriots affectionately called her, grew vegetables outside the city and shared her favorite recipes with German housewives at culinary shows.
She also retained many “Soviet” habits. Calls “supermarket” “supermarket”, loves hodgepodge, shashlik or lecho. And sometimes he buys unnecessary things, fearing a shortage.
Merkel prefers to remain silent about her personal life. It is only known that the first student marriage lasted five years. She met her second husband at the Academy of Sciences in the eighties. Joachim Sauer is a world-renowned researcher, in his field his merits are no less than those of his wife in politics. Family friends claim that Joachim is still the main one in their pair, although he likes to keep a low profile.
Inconspicuous appearance, lack of charisma – political strategists themselves were surprised at Merkel’s popularity. One of the German journalists nicknamed her “the gray pearl”. Indeed, the chancellor was not distinguished by her image and original ideas, she was not an outstanding orator. She avoided heated debates, answered dryly, logically and with irony. In German, the verb even appeared merkeln – “to merkel”. That is, to act carefully, waiting for an opportunity. And the opponents actually fell into a trap.
“After she leaves, a vacuum forms.”
The Krisekanzlerin (“Crisis Chancellor” – Ed.) Has fought against nuclear energy, which is considered a threat in Germany, and paid a lot of attention to environmental issues. Under her, unemployment fell, the Federal Republic of Germany suffered less than other European countries from economic crises.
She negotiated even with the most difficult partners. “Many do not know, but Mrs. Merkel is a machine for finding compromises. Often, if the question led to a dead end, Angela groped for what unites us and allows us to go further,” said Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel, adding that with her departure “a great vacuum is formed.”
Berlin has become the political capital of Europe, overshadowed by Brussels, Paris and London. It is no secret that this irritated many.
Germany has more than once demonstrated to its partners the ability to impose its will rather toughly. Suffice it to recall the indicative flogging of Greece during the crisis, migration policy or anti-Russian sanctions, which are not supported by everyone in the European Union.
And yet, Merkel managed to maintain transatlantic unity when Donald Trump was president of the United States, negotiate with Turkey on the placement of migrants, launch the Berlin conference on Libya and defend Nord Stream 2.
“Do you speak Russi-an? I am a little too.”
Western media have repeatedly written that the Russian leader and the previous Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, were connected not only by good political contacts, but by personal sympathy. Allegedly, there was no such “chemistry” between Putin and Merkel. And yet they got along well, maintained mutual understanding, which is so important for a normal dialogue. Merkel switched to Russian. Putin – in German.
The leaders discussed economic cooperation and the implementation of the idea of “Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” Berlin proposed a “partnership for modernization” that helped Russia develop not only the economy, but other areas as well.
But gradually problems arose. Moscow relied on bilateral cooperation with Berlin, while Germany acted as a member of the EU, which needs to listen to the opinions of other European countries.
The crack was formed after the annexation of Crimea to Russia. The ensuing events in eastern Ukraine deepened it. The Chancellor has unconditionally supported the United States, firmly defending anti-Russian sanctions. But in spite of everything, she has always advocated a dialogue with Moscow. Merkel and Putin retained economic cooperation, with her they managed to create a “Normandy format” and conclude the Minsk agreements.
Inheritance to successor
“In 2015, of all European leaders, only Merkel visited Moscow on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War. Her political style coincides with the Russian one. The main thing is specifics and realism,” says Artem Sokolov, a researcher at the Center for European Studies of the IMI MGIMO.
She has formed a sense of social stability among compatriots. “The time when Germany started working as a truly united country,” the political scientist believes.
Germanist Veronika Vishnyakova agrees with him: “For the Germans, Merkel is a symbol of stability. the era resembles stagnation. A significant part of the necessary reforms and decisions were postponed until later, now they will be decided by the successor.”
Long-term leadership stumbled over the migration crisis of 2015. Streams of refugees poured into the EU, many of whom did not flee the war, but wanted to receive social benefits. The Chancellor has spoken out as an ardent defender of the open door policy with the famous “Wir schaffen das” (We can handle this). Not everyone appreciated it. The decision undermined her position and ratings – especially in the east of the country.
Dissatisfaction spilled over into street protests, and nationalist movements gained momentum. In the country as a whole, the sympathy of the Germans was won by the ultra-right party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD). Merkel made excuses: Germany needs labor. However, not everyone accepted the argument, considering that the majority of refugees did not intend to work.
The catastrophic flooding in the Rhine region also left many questions. The emergency warning system simply did not work, 180 people died – a huge figure for a peaceful European state. At the same time, Germany is coping with the pandemic much more successfully (almost 70 percent of those vaccinated), but many are not ready to forgive the authorities for harsh crackdowns on those who disagree with the policy of restrictions.
Merkel’s popularity has played a cruel joke with her party too – the chancellor has become the locomotive that pulls the whole association. The CDU lost face when she left. I warned about the decision three years in advance, but finding a replacement is still not easy.
“What to do after resignation?” – This question is surprising for 67-year-old Merkel. First of all, you should have a good night’s sleep, then take a walk in nature and, finally, think about yourself already in retirement. Which, according to the estimates of German journalists, will be at least 15 thousand euros per month. In addition, following the example of his predecessors, the ex-chancellor can go into business and give paid lectures. Many former leaders in Europe have long and successfully converted political capital into money.
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