Following the initiative of Chancellor Angela Merkel to withdraw from the German political scene and since they failed to persuade her to change her mind, Germany is facing significant changes. The four consecutive four years period of Chancellor Angela Merkel under the leadership of Germany have shaped an astonishing political course with great success and some mistakes.
Certainly, Angela Merkel is the EU’s most charismatic figure Stateswoman, and all the challenges met in her political career gave her the opportunity to show off her leadership role (for more analysis please read the analysis titled “Another success is added to the Myth of the Greatest Stateswoman that Europe (EU) has been show”.
by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis
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Achievements and mistakes of Europe’s Most Important Stateswoman/Politician
Angela Merkel started with a low-key political profile from East Germany, which she maintained throughout her Chancellery.
A. The achievements
1. She managed methodically and silently without drawing the spotlight on her surpassed the then powerful West German political establishment of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), whose main spokesmen were Helmut Kohl and Wolfgang Schauble.
2. It laid the foundations for the further economic and social development of Germany continuing the labour sector reforms initiated by Chancellor Gerhard Schoder (1998-2005) giving the German economy a comparative competitive advantage over France and other EU member countries and the rest of the world.
3. It effectively strengthened cohesion initially among the less developed eastern Germany (formerly East Germany) and at the same time launched the economic convergence between the less developed eastern regions of the country and the more developed western regions.
4. Economic growth in its day has led the United Germany to lead and to play a leading role in the global economy.
5. Angela Merkel managed to save the cohesion of the Eurozone / EU after her outbreak global financial crisis (2008) in the US, enabling troubled Eurozone/EU member countries (Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal) to enter in financial support programs and at the same time return to a sound fiscal trajectory.
6. Accepted the opening of the German border, convincing German society (2015-2016) to accept refugees and migrants, to avoid a generalized humanitarian catastrophe.
7. Angela Merkel expressed in favor of a non-strict lockdowns, with open schools and retail shops, but with strict discipline in respecting the measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic when this too had to be done without putting the German economy in great danger.
8. The EU, under the main responsibility of Germany and Angela Merkel, has upgraded the degree of severity of the sanctions, it has already imposed on Turkey, to the detriment of Turkish companies and persons involved in the illegal attempt to exploit the energy wealth of the Republic of Cyprus. Parallel placed on the negotiations table that if Turkey continues to question the sovereign and the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus equally, it will only succeed in increasing the chances and sanctions imposed on the entire Turkish economy.
9. He strongly supported the creation of a European Recovery Fund and funding through a first phase of remuneration of the Eurozone debt.
B. Mistakes and omissions
1. She did not want to lead European unification, leaving room for the Liberal leader and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, whose proposals lead to the unification of the Eurozone/EU and refused to support these proposals in practice.
2. He did not support the candidacy of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair-The most important friend/politician of participation of UK in EU-for the position of the first President of the European Council. Instead, he backed former Belgian Prime Minister Herman Achille van Rompuy.
If Tony Blair had taken over as President of the European Council, his prestige would have had given a global impact in the first Presidency of European Council and a dynamic Brexit could not have been created by the rise of populists in the UK. In this case British populists would not easily resonate with the British people. Brexit is the most powerful geopolitical rupture-loss in EU history.
3. It initially supported the momentum developed in the Eurozone in favor of Grexit (2010). Her stance changed due to the intervention of former French President Francois Hollande and former Commission President Jean-Claude Junker.
4. She preferred the EU to remain indirectly under the US security umbrella and did not develop together with the willing France the dynamics for the creation of a common European Armed Forces, leaving the EU to appear as an economic-trade global giant with international-political weakness.
5. Abolished nuclear power plants in Germany (after Fukushima-Japan accident (2011)), forcing both Germany and the EU to depend heavily on Russia for energy. The replacement of the energy production of the nuclear power plants should be done gradually with increasing the production of energy from RES and equal replacement of the energy produced by the nuclear power plants.
The new political landscape in post-Merkel Germany
The post-Angela Merkel era has launched very interesting political developments. During Angela Merkel’s sixteen years in Chancellery office, both the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) had their turnout when these two parties changed the course of German history after the WWII and to this day.
In the last parliamentary elections (2017) the CDU received 32.9% while the SPD received 20.5%. After the parliamentary elections (2017) the CDU-SPD coalition was formed to rule, but both parties lost their political support and resonance in the German electorate.
The fact that in the upcoming elections of September 2021, reduced percentages are expected for both parties compared to the corresponding ones of 2017, is due to the political choices of Angela Merkel that “smoothed” any differences between these two parties.
The rise of the Far Right occurred during Angela Merkel’s rule. This political event is since Angela Merkel chose at the last minute to support Greece’s stay in the Eurozone by opposing Grexit and the fact that she opened the borders of Germany (2015-2016) to immigrants-refugees to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
The Far Right (Alternative for Germany) has developed politically by investing in Grexit, closing the border to migrant refugees, and the theory that Germany would win if it left the Eurozone.
In its parliamentary elections (2017), the party Alternative for Germany received 12%, making it the third most important political force in Germany. The ruling coalition CDU-SPD is taking all the damage from the government, strengthening the party Alternative for Germany.
The political rise of the Greens is coming to an era under Angela Merkel. The Greens in the 2017 elections received a percentage of 8.9%. Marginal increase compared to their previous percentage of 8.5% (2013). But from 2017 until today, the choice in the green transition of the economies of Germany and the rest of the EU member-countries, gave a great political opportunity to the Greens.
The President of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock, followed a course of popularity (initially impressively popular and then declining in popularity) like that of Social Democrat Martin Schulz when he was leader of the SPD.
Today, the polls give the Greens 18-20%, which, if verified in the parliamentary elections of September 2021, will make them the second force and regulator of the political scene.
The hundreds of dead and missing with billions of dollars in flood damage that hit Germany in mid-July 2021, and attributed to climate change, could further boost Greens by further reducing CDU rates.
This is because CDU candidate Armin Laschet joked-laughed during a joint visit with German President Frank Walter Steinmeier in Nordrhein-Westfalen that he could significantly influence the Greens’ electorate.
Scenarios for the Post-Angela Merkel Era
1. The CDU continues to lose electoral power, but it will certainly get the percentages it will receive enable him to participate in a governmental scheme.
2. The SPD will continue to lose electoral power, losing the ability to create governing coalition between the Greens-Social Democrats-Left.
3. The Greens will receive high percentages after the July disasters, participating in a government with the CDU.
4. Liberals may outperform their constituencies Social Democrats. If common ground is found between them, their alliance may be the new official opposition.
5. Greens, Social Democrats and Liberals will hardly form a government coalition, which will last a long time.
The political legacy of Angela Merkel
The low political profile combined with the high degree of effectiveness of the Merkel era led politics in Germany to resolve any of its differences through constant consensus and constant compromises.
This is of course due to and facilitated by the structure of the German political system, as it includes very broad powers in the state governments and federal elections with a simple proportional representation and a 5% threshold for entry into the Federal Parliament.
This high degree of consensus and compromise between the parties will remain and is the political legacy of Angela Merkel’s term.
With the entry of the Greens into the government, it is expected:
1. Accelerating developments towards the Green Transition in both Germany and Europe.
2. Stable adherence to the doctrine of orthodox fiscal stability.
3. Failure to promote for the EU issues of common European defense, common foreign policy and guarantee of external borders.
4. Increasing disagreements between Germany and the US over the EU’s energy dependence on Russia and Germany’s ambiguous position in the US-China conflict.
The post-Angela Merkel era in Europe leaves the ground open for the political star of Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi respectively as successors to great politicians-Statesmen of Europe.