“Long reigns often leave long shadows”: Europeans on Angela Merkel | Angela Merkel
After 16 years in power, Angela Merkel is leaving her post as German Chancellor on Thursday. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said she had “often defined modern Germany” and Romano Prodi, Italian Prime Minister between 2006 and 2008, said that a new European strategy and the next generation of the EU would be part of the “great legacy” she leaves. .
All over Europe, citizens share their views on its leadership in Germany and the role it has played within the European Union.
“Merkel showed me that a girl can become anything”
I am part of the Merkel generation and I grew up knowing only Angela Merkel as Chancellor of Germany. Having a wife, who with a doctorate is the most influential office in Germany, has shown me that a girl can become anything. In the midst of many politicians, it was a relief to see a representative leading German politics. His calmness and reliability have always given me a sense of security in society. While I don’t consider myself to be politically conservative / center-right, I admire her because she has consistently guided us through many crises. My main criticism would be his blindness to green and climate-friendly policy. I approve of his resignation to allow for a change in leadership, but I worry when I look at the current candidates for the job.
Xenia Cleuvers, 23, student, Cologne, Germany
“The climate crisis is Merkel’s biggest failure”
There are only a few points on which I agree with Angela Merkel – one being the refugee crisis of 2015, when she “opened the doors” (in my opinion the only right thing to do) . Other than that, his rule is a mixture of “just keep going as we’ve always done” and “let’s only change something if absolutely necessary”. But as Germany was doing well economically, people continued to vote for it. Merkel has become the symbol of stability and the Germans love stability. The climate crisis is Merkel’s biggest failure. As the former Minister of the Environment, she warned of the dramatic effects of climate change, but when in power she did nothing significant to present solutions. For me, she will always be the calm, logical, and emotionless politician.
Tom Stolzenberger, 24, law student, Germany
Merkel’s policies are responsible for almost destroying the nascent but strong renewable energy sector that the previous government strongly supported. By politically destroying all of her potential successors, Merkel has left a power vacuum in the conservative part of German society. In a predominantly conservative country, built on the pursuit of stability and wealth rather than progress and opportunity, it leaves it in the worst possible political circumstances. No, her track record is hardly admirable and I remain puzzled at how long she managed to hang on to power despite the many problems. I say good riddance!
Frithjof Stöppler, 40, academic, Stockholm, Sweden
“Merkel shames other heads of state”
Honest, courageous, responsible, played for the long game and kept her principles throughout her tenure. Genuinely cares about people. Shame on other heads of state!
Niki, 65, photographer, France
“Hopefully his dream for Europe will survive his tenure”
I think Angela Merkel has been an important focal point when it comes to Europe and the world in general. She brought Germany to the fore and opened the doors to migrants while she was in power. She is considered by many to be an economic savior, and she has helped many people and countries all over the world through trade and commerce, funding for NGOs and international organizations. I really think Germany and Europe will regret his dynamic leadership style. Hopefully his dreams for Europe will outlive his tenure.
Lucky, 32, Italy
“I think most Greeks won’t miss her.”
I think that Germany has mismanaged the crisis in the euro zone and that it is responsible for the significant worsening of the situation of all the countries of southern Europe by imposing on them unpopular austerity policies and, above all, ineffective. Later, his decision to let 1 million refugees into Germany was greeted positively in Greece, where most people believed wealthy European countries should take in more refugees. In a world where Trump was the President of the United States and the United Kingdom was on the verge of leaving the EU, Merkel and Germany seemed to be the last glimmers of hope and stability. Overall, I think most Greeks won’t regret it. Germany and Europe as a whole need a change and his departure is a golden opportunity to make that change and reform Europe before it is too late.
Doros Georgiou, 35, research analyst, Athens, Greece
“The main decisions taken by Merkel were a disaster”
Merkel was a disaster for Germany and Europe. After 16 years as Chancellor, Germany looks more and more like the former GDR (German Democratic Republic), from which it originates. In her early years in office, I felt like she hardly made any decisions, and even when she did, it was only after assessing public opinion, just to stay popular. The main decisions it took were a disaster, such as the migrant policy and nuclear energy. Merkel has divided the German population and the citizens are without a common dialogue. I am very sad, because Germany was a great place to live in the 1970s and 2000s. I fear that none of the candidate for the election will be able to clean up the mess Merkel leaves behind.
MA, 69, retired immunologist, Portugal
“She treats her constituents as if they were adults”
I can’t agree with Merkel on everything, but I admire her. A skilled negotiator, she built bridges between allies and opponents across Europe and in her country. I have observed from Spain how it reduced unemployment and the public deficit in Germany with respect. We live in a time of great polarization and it has been a relief to see a politician focused on the issues. What I love most about her is that she treats her constituents like they are adults. I hope some of his style will prevail in Europe over the next decade. Otherwise, I will miss her.
Carlos Martín Carretié, 22, Seville, Spain
“Merkel is exactly what a politician should be”
I am not very interested in politics, but that does not prevent me from seeing her as the most stable European politician. She was and is the epitome of what a politician should be: calm, consistent but determined and pragmatic, serious but visionary. I guess I stress this, because, reluctantly and with sadness in my heart, I make a comparison to our local political space. This year alone, we had our third election in November. Politicians recklessly play on the nerves of the people and waste money. The more I am sad and disappointed with our Bulgarian political absurdities, the more I admire, in general, people who know where they are, what is expected of them and what they are doing. To me, Angela Merkel is exactly what a politician should be – 16, wow.
Evgenia Sasha, 62, Sofia, Bulgaria
“A firm hand on the tiller”
A firm hand on the tiller – consistent and reliable. I liked that Merkel allowed 1 million refugees to immigrate to the EU in 2016 and stood up to Trump. With Germany being a leading country in Europe, we have been fortunate to have stable leadership for so long. I also love that she handed over the leadership of her party in sufficient time for them to prepare for new potential. Kanzler [chancellor], and that it moves away, is not rejected (is this rare in politics?). It’s great to see a woman in a powerful position.
Síle McNutt, 60, environmentalist and artist, Co Donegal, Ireland
“My perception of Merkel has completely changed with her response to the refugee crisis”
First impressions are important, and I was initially skeptical about Merkel. The Greek crisis did not help as well. Nonetheless, against all odds and as the public perception receded from her, my perception of Merkel changed completely with her response to the refugee crisis. I have also started to appreciate its role as a builder of compromises and consensus within the European institutions much more. Now I share some concern about the future of Germany and Europe after ‘Mutti ‘retreats. Will the engine of the European project hold up? How are our neighbors in the Western Balkans waiting room supposed to find a new ally? It looks like this is going to be a serious challenge for any future German Chancellor who aims to replace her shoes.
Mirko Savković, 28, Banovci, Croatia
“Some of his bold decisions stand out all the more for their relative rarity”
The hasty post-Fukushima decision to shut down German nuclear power plants by 2022, when it had only just negotiated a 2038 coal shutdown target, kept Germany one of the biggest sinners Europe’s climate change, contrary to the country’s image of itself as making good progress on environmental goals. Even as a chancellor who favored stability over reform, she nonetheless left her mark on the country, and these few surprising bold decisions of her tenure are all the more notable for their relative rarity. Perhaps her greatest success as a politician is that which she repeated of her predecessor Kohl: she wields power so skillfully and diplomatically that no one in her party, perhaps no one in the whole Germany, does not seem to be able to replace it.
Daphne Preston-Kendal, 28, British student, lives in germany
“Long reigns often leave long shadows”
The difficulty with leaders like Merkel is that due to their popularity and prevalence, people find it difficult to see a future without them. I don’t have much to comment on her policy as we disagree on many topics but as she has defined Germany through her post as Chancellor throughout my life I look forward to the change that his successor is sure to make. Long reigns often leave long shadows, just like Merkel’s. There is a generation that has not known Germany without it. Due to her popularity and length of time in office, it will be difficult for the next Chancellor to compete with her. Things will surely continue, but his successor has not only Germany in mind, but the whole continent as well.
Chris, 18, student, Finland