Years and Legacy of Angela Merkel

While Germany’s political parties are undertaking intensive maneuvers after last month’s general election, which did not produce a clear winner, attention in the country, in Europe and in the world is focused on the expected governing coalition. The legacy of the outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel after 16 years in office is also being critically questioned. As a steadfast, steadfast hand, reconciler and stabilizer, both for Germany’s powerful political and economic machine and for the European Union, everyone who emerges as the new helmsman will fight to keep up with his position on national and global affairs.

So far, none of the top runners has been perceived to come close to the resilient lady. The federal elections did not produce a clear winner, the government and chancellor posts were open to any parliamentary group that can cobble together a coalition.

Merkel’s ruling conservative CDU / CSU lost its leadership to the opposition center-left Social Democrats, who are ahead with 25.7 percent of the vote and 206 seats in every coalition. Your boss Olaf Scholz has a chance of becoming chancellor and could mean a more left-wing Germany. The CDU / CSU lost its 16-year lead with 24.1 percent of the vote and 196 seats. The left-wing liberals, the Greens, improved from 5.8 percent of the vote in 2017 to 14.8 percent of the vote and a potential kingmaker role with 118 seats. If you add up the CDU / CSU, seven parties are represented in the lower house. Analysts say negotiations for a governing coalition could take weeks.

The survey and the result are a cliffhanger, but they nonetheless show the resilience of the German political system, the interplay of free choice and the ultimate triumph of the people’s will in a living democracy. While Merkel, for example, has remained very popular throughout and is leaving with a current approval rate of around 80 percent, her party has consistently lost its mass appeal. A report from TIME The magazine found that the CDU / CSU slipped from a high share of the vote from 41 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in 2017 and to 24.1 percent in 2021.

The robustness of the mutually reinforcing diversity in a well-functioning parliamentary federal community can also be seen. The CSU remains a state party with headquarters in Bavaria, the largest of the 16 German federal states, but is represented in the middle and, like other regional groups, could be a member of the ruling federal coalition or opposition. The other smaller parties are also potential coalition partners who represent different interests, ideologies and regions. This is different from the winner-take-all system in Nigeria, which inevitably leaves many areas alienated.

Merkel leaves behind a strong economy, dynamic political system and a strong EU that has weathered fierce headwinds in recent years, including the Greek debt crisis, the UK’s exit and the emergence of far-right parties in some member states, the union’s guiding principles.

A recent survey showed that 70 percent of Germans are satisfied with their economic situation. Merkel steered the country safely through the global meltdown of 2008/9 and the associated euro debt crisis. Under her, Germany also survived the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an analysis by the Eurasia Group, Merkel’s leadership of the country and the EU was exemplary as a “thoughtful, flexible problem solver” who accompanied her through a debt emergency, a flood of migrants from the Middle East and the deadliest global pandemic in Germany in the 20th century. Your efforts, said one writer, “helped save the EU”. Among his most far-reaching decisions are the Council on Foreign Relations Germany’s admission of a million refugees, the constitutional debt brake and the insistence on austerity measures and structural reforms during the euro debt crisis.

For KPMG, a global consulting firm, government delivery of vaccines to 68 percent of the population boosted business confidence and kept the economy going. Merkel’s ability to deal with emergencies is also credited with promoting employment, especially for women. At around 5.4 percent, unemployment is one of the lowest among industrialized countries.

At the global level, she has contributed to strengthening the euro as part of her extensive commitment to the EU project. Regarded as the de facto leader of Europe, despite the claims of French presidents, Merkel has always promoted Germany’s interests, its place in world markets and national security interests. A new minimum wage, a review of energy policy, improved social benefits and the end of compulsory military service were among their successes.

Their foreign policy emphasized universal liberal values, democracy, human rights and diplomacy. It was able to maintain a balance between diplomacy and sanctions when needed between aggressive world powers like Russia, China, Iran and brutal regimes from Myanmar to Venezuela and Belarus. Demonstratively, she remained calm but firm in dealing with the aggressive, disruptive roar of a former American President, Donald Trump, who unilaterally turned international agreements upside down, provoked trade wars and weakened the NATO alliance. She is leaving the EU stronger and thus an important force for global stability.

But, as with all people, there were some unfulfilled expectations. One of them is the failure to make the promised full shift from nuclear to safer energy sources. Their leading role in the EU’s handling of the debt crisis and their tough stance on defaults angered Greece so much that it considered leaving the Union. As great mediators, some liberals have been disappointed with their modest achievements in promoting environmental issues. The right says it was only slowly following French President Emmanuel Macron’s move to get Europe to rely on itself to defend itself and move away from the American-dominated NATO umbrella.

Nigeria and other emerging democracies should learn from the German experience: Democracies thrive on strong institutions and sensible, responsible leadership. Merkel, a woman born in the former communist GDR, a physicist and doctorate in chemistry, was discovered and cared for by another great German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl; she went upstairs and remained a humble housewife. No high life, luxury or scandal.

Her experience is a shining example of executive recruitment and good governance for Nigeria and others still struggling with democracy.

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