Time Magazine‘s Person of the Year is German Prime Minister Angela Merkel.
Interesting choice: Prime Minister Merkel is a Lutheran, a conservative (relatively speaking, for Germany), a woman, an economic hard-liner, by all accounts a skillful leader. She has been compared to Margaret Thatcher, a formidable figure, though now she is being accused of being too generous when it comes to immigration.
Who would you have chosen for Person of the Year, the individual who has most impacted the world for better or for worse in 2015?
Prime minister Angela Merkel, Germany’s Iron Lady, is leading efforts to stand up against Russia’s incursion against the Ukraine. But she is doing so against the tide of public opinion in her country. Many Germans are sympathetic to Russia out of resentment for America’s eavesdropping on them in the NSA surveillance program! [Read more…]
Germany’s conservative Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was re-elected, as voters gave her party an overwhelming victory in seats in parliament. Political campaigns in Germany, though, are rather different from the way they are in the United States. [Read more…]
Lutheran pastor’s kid Angela Merkel, now the chancellor of Germany, had some striking things to say about the immigration debate in that country:
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans debating Muslim integration to stand up more for Christian values, saying Monday the country suffered not from “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity.”
Addressing her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, she said she took the current public debate in Germany on Islam and immigration very seriously. As part of this debate, she said last month that multiculturalism there had utterly failed.
Some of her conservative allies have gone further, calling for an end to immigration from “foreign cultures” — a reference to Muslim countries like Turkey — and more pressure on immigrants to integrate into German society.
Merkel told the CDU annual conference in Karlsruhe that the debate about immigration “especially by those of the Muslim faith” was an opportunity for the ruling party to stand up confidently for its convictions.
“We don’t have too much Islam, we have too little Christianity. We have too few discussions about the Christian view of mankind,” she said to applause from the hall.
Angela Merkel won a big victory in Germany, with her conservative coalition trouncing the socialists and other leftist parties, strengthening her hand as Chancellor. Anne Applebaum comments:
Merkel's achievement is far greater than it seems. She is a soft-spoken, even-tempered and, frankly, dull pragmatist who has compared her economic program to that of a "Swabian housewife." Her campaigns are the most boring anyone can remember. Despite the decisiveness of her recent victory, she humbly declared that she "respected those who did not vote for me." To underline that point, she celebrated her new term as chancellor with a lunch of potato soup and sausages, an event that the Financial Times called "so low-key it resembled an atonement rite more than a celebration." She is, if you like, the anti-Obama: zero charisma, zero glamour, beige pantsuits and a spouse who rarely appears in public.
And yet, partly by default and partly by design, Merkel is now the de facto leader of Europe. Over in Britain, Gordon Brown's Labor Party is immolating itself. Over in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy's attention-deficit issues propel him from one project to the next, to the irritation of everybody. The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is under endless investigation, and everyone else is too small or too preoccupied to compete. Even when the European Union chooses its next president later this year, he (and it almost certainly will be a he) will find it extremely difficult to do anything that contradicts the wishes of Merkel, who regularly tops lists of the world's most powerful women.
In fact, the more I watch her, the more I am convinced that her femaleness holds the key to her success. Under her watch, Germany has continued to grow more powerful, more influential, more dominant than ever before. Yet not only has no one noticed, they applaud and ask for more. If a bull-necked Helmut Kohl or a flashy Gerhard Schroeder were running Germany, there would be rising anxiety and mumbling about the Fourth Reich — just as there was 20 years ago, at the time of German reunification, when Kohl was still in charge. But Merkel provokes no jealousy or competitiveness among the alpha males who run large countries, and she inspires no fear among the citizens of smaller ones.
On the contrary, Germany even has good relations with most of its neighbors to the east, many of which are inclined to distrust Germans as a matter of principle. This is partly because she is so willing to show up when asked, and offer mild-mannered words of friendship and apologies for World War II. After which she returns home and works to make Germany stronger and more dominant in the region. And everyone smiles. . . .
Until now, Merkel's various failings have often been attributed to the fact that she was in a "grand coalition," one of those only-in-Europe dysfunctional parliamentary governments, the result of a coalition between the Socialist left and the Christian Democrat right — an arrangement somewhat as though the White House were shared evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Every tiny issue had to be negotiated between the two major parties, every step in foreign or domestic policy elaborately discussed. But now her coalition partner is another center-right party, the Free Democrats, and she has no more excuses. Perhaps that is why she has suddenly started talking about cutting taxes, which in Germany counts as genuinely radical.
Instead of looking for “charismatic” candidates, let’s look for dull and effective ones!