Angela Merkel`s departure: A void in Germany
News Desk || shiningbd
Angela Merkel, arguably the world’s most powerful woman, is stepping down from the world stage.
Today Germany will elect a new government that won’t be helmed by "mutti," or mommy, as many of her compatriots dub her, although she has no children herself.
Merkel, 67, became the dominant political force in Europe during her time in power as Germany’s first female chancellor, shepherding her country and the continent through difficult times — from the 2008 financial crash to an influx of migrants, Brexit and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her absence will be felt not only in Berlin, but also in Paris and Washington.
At home, Merkel, seen by many to be a stable hand, is still more popular than any of the current party leaders, who polls show have yet to really capture the country’s imagination.
She’s also well regarded among Germany’s main allies and neighbors, according to a YouGov survey last month.
The country’s first East German leader, Merkel studied physics and earned a doctorate in chemistry before working for several years as a researcher.
It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall that she got involved in politics. She quickly rose in prominence, and in 1991 she became the youngest member of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Cabinet as minister for women and youth.
Despite her achievements, one thing Merkel was unable to do was to develop a credible successor in her own party.
“The last 16 years of German politics have had one constant, Angela Merkel, and there was an incredible stability in leadership and policy,” said Julian Müller-Kaler, an expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations focusing on American politics.
Merkel won’t be gone right away, though. Whichever party comes out on top will likely need to form a coalition to take charge, and her government will stay in power until talks to form a new one are complete.
According to one study by the European Council on Foreign Relations, more than half of those polled said they think their country’s golden age is in the past.
No matter who comes out on top, Merkel’s experience will be hard to replace.