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Long live, Merkelism


Dubai - German chancellor’s legacy of 16 years cannot be wished away

By Kaushik Basu

Published: Sun 26 Sep 2021, 9:16 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Sep 2021, 9:29 PM

Angela Merkel may be stepping down but long live Merkelism. The German chancellor’s legacy of 16 years cannot be wished away, for it symbolised mercy in a world roiled by several conflicts and much displacement. And whoever replaces the Merkel will have large shoes to fill. The chancellor was stoic, showed courage and remained true to her principles in a Europe that was struggling to find its feet during a period of economic upheaval and crisis driven by war in the Middle East, an aggressive Russia and a United States that blew hot and cold with every change of guard at the White House. She was the moral compass her country and the continent needed as they swayed between the US and the East. Conflicts in the Middle East and the rise of Daesh, which fuelled a refugee crisis, may have tested her resolve but her response was like no other leader.

She opened the doors to people when others shut them. Many called her an angel of mercy. Some called her policies revolutionary, which is far from the truth. In fact, she was a reactionary in these crisis-ridden times, but they worked and served her legacy well. Her winning formula, Fahren au Sich, (driving without being able to see far ahead) put Germany firmly in charge of European affairs. Her word was final; the destination was uncertain, yet the drive wasn’t as uncomfortable for ordinary Germans as they had feared at the start of the journey. It was worth it. Germany, in fact, returned to the driver’s seat and was seated at the high-table of global discussions that matter, though her critics point out her failures on the climate.

Indeed, Merkel was a safe pair of hands at the wheel. She didn’t shift into high gear much, yet was driven by the need to change Germany into a humanitarian power in an attempt to shelve its Nazi past. The economy was stable, even stronger during the Merkel era and the chancellor felt emboldened to embark on social pursuits that defined her tenure. The chancellor may have shown little emotion but the scientist in her made problem-solving an art. She provided staid solutions and didn’t dwell on problems, which made her stand tall among her peers and the people. Merkel deserves credit and respect for holding Germany and Europe together. She elevated the diplomatic status quo and made it respectable. She built bridges while breaking down walls. More importantly, her innate decency won people over as she got the job done without fuss.

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