Opinion | Angela Merkel Is Leaving. It's Time.

Merkel’s leadership spans 15 years and 4 terms and in that span, she latched on to become TIME's person of the year, Forbes most powerful woman and the Chancellor of what's often lauded as the "free world", However, the girl who would grow up to be called the most powerful woman in the world has tholed quite a journey from being the daughter of a Lutheran Pastor in East Germany to de facto leader of a continent. 

Iron Curtain found literal expression in the form of the Berlin Wall, partitioning
Germany’s capital into East and West for almost 3 decades, which finally collapsed in 1989 unifying the democratic and prosperous West Germany with the communist and impoverished side of the East, and soon Germany became one of the largest and most populous countries in Europe. This is when Ms. Angela Merkel crossed the confines of the world of Physics and set foot into politics. 

First elected to be a member of the new German parliament in 1990, Merkel rapidly rose through the ranks, by ‘94 she had clutched staved the post of Minister of Environment. And by 2000, she was already the head of her ,mostly male-dominated, political party, the CDU. Ms. Merkel rose to prominence when she publicly ousted her party’s political giant Helmut Kohl. While Ms. Merkel became more important in Germany, the reunited Germany continued to gain further importance in Europe. With the open borders between the EU member countries, Germany led the effort to forge the “Eurozone” where 11 EU countries adopted the Euro as a common currency in 1999. These policies made the EU countries more reliant on one another. And in the early 2000’s, the EU increasingly looked to Germany, one of its most formidable economies, to be its leader. 

Taking the plunge in 2005, that Leadership came from Angela Merkel.  
Maneuvering a grand coalition between Germany’s biggest political parties,
Ms. Merkel, demonstrated a flair for building consensus, and her ability to stabilize the German economy became particularly important when the EU faced a crisis — Fatigue had set in fast; it was a high stakes game where the players were the world leaders and the wager was the world’s economy. 

The Global economic recession hit Greece especially hard, inching towards bankruptcy, and in unison bringing down the value of the Euro, jeopardizing everyone in the Eurozone.  But Merkel’s Germany was weathering the recession better than anyone in Europe. So, it fell on Merkel to extricate Greece with her perceptive economic strategy, but her priority was to retain the integrity of the Eurozone and Greece’s debt threatened the very existence of that union. Demanding harsh tactics and deeply unpopular policies, Merkel in due course got the 16 Eurozone countries to buttress her plan and kept the Eurozone with one accord, cementing her role as the unparalleled but contentious leader of Europe, emerging as an indispensable trouper in managing the sequent debt crisis.  Subsequently, Merkel used state intervention on a massive scale to rescue the world economy after the 2008 financial crash.

Within Germany, Merkel’s popularity continued to grow. And in 2013, she won her third term as Chancellor.
Then came 2015, it wasn’t once or twice but three times that year that Europe found itself in the midst of multiple crises and Merkel as the one to handle them. It was her 10th year at the helm of Europe's largest economy. More than 1 million refugees fled conflicts in Northern Africa and the Middle East and migrated to Europe. Some 1,00,000 were arriving each month. While some countries greeted them with open arms, others started to set up fences with barbed wires on top. But Merkel didn’t Flinch. 
Merkel called on the EU leaders to help absorb the influx of refugees. But several European nations pushed back, as nationalist politicians in these countries stoked anti-immigrant fears. This time, Merkel could not build a consensus. Migrants continued to stack up in Europe’s southern countries, causing a humanitarian crisis while undermining the unanimity of the EU. 

So, Merkel acted alone. In 2015, Germany threw open its door to the multitude, taking in more refugees than any other European country.
At first, things went well. Merkel now embodied the European ideals of openness and solidarity at a time when both were being severely tested, 33% of Germans said the country could take on additional asylum seekers. Multiple organizations, human rights advocacy groups and citizens continued to welcome refugees as victims of radical savagery, not carriers of it. They were greeted with cheers in Germany. “Flüchtlinge sind hier willkommen.”, their placards read. “Refugees are welcome here.”
This was the New Year’s Eve in Cologne. The Christmas markets were all decked pretty and the milieu was festive and cheerful. However, as 2016 neared on Dec. 31, some 1,500 men, including some newly arrived asylum seekers and many other immigrants, had instead assembled around Cologne’s train station. Mayhem started to unfold. Drunk and dismissive of the police, they took advantage of an overwhelmed force to sexually assault and rob hundreds of people, according to police reports, shocking Germany and stoking anxieties over absorbing refugees across Europe. This rare phenomenon was now reality in a Germany that was host to up to a million asylum seekers, most from war torn nations, unfamiliar with its culture as she held with her belief that great civilizations, build bridges not walls.
This marked a turning point. 

After the attacks in Cologne, only 18% of Germans felt the  country could take in more asylees, sowing fears of future attacks and reviving the reflex to slam the open doors shut, build walls and trust no one. 
And finally, the massacre in Paris challenged the principle of open borders yet again and sharpened the furious debate about balance between safety and Freedom. Merkel found herself cast in a role that she never asked for, as she was called everything from a 'whore' by protesting Germans to 'Insane' by Donald Trump, blowback came fast and from all sides. Her approval ratings dropped more than 20 points, even as she continued to broadcast her faith in her people: “Wir schaffen das,” she said over and over. “We can do this.” However, she retained her dignity amidst a barrage of insinuation and abuse.

1.5 million voters who had previously backed Merkel’s Grand Coalition in
2013, swerved their support and voted for the AfD (Alternative for Germany) in 2017. Having lost support for her coalition government in 2018, Merkel decided to step down as leader of her party, though she’ll abide as Germany’s Chancellor until the epilogue of her term in 2021. 
The years to follow didn’t come easy either, Before the onslaught of the Pandemic, Germany was already braving an economic downturn, with performance slowing down over the past 3 years. The outbreak worsened the hitherto situation. 
Merkel’s party recently elected Armin Laschet, as its next leader.
He’s an abstemious Merkel ally who could very well become Germany’s next Chancellor. Olaf Scholz of the SPD Party and Annalena Baerbock from the Greens will also equally be on tough grounds in the competition. But for the rest of Europe, Merkel's absence could be more unsettling. Since the Eurozone and migrant crises, Europe has seen nationalist political parties gain popularity in recent elections, threatening the unity of the EU. And Merkel has gone from being the reigning titlist of a united Europe to its last remaining strong defender.
With Merkel treading away, these nationalist leaders could gain influence over the time ahead. 
And that’s something Merkel is very aware of.

Angela Merkel, until the result day, remains the de Facto leader of Europe. Her leadership is marked by steely reserve. 
Each event, Each Crisis, had the potential to sunder the world. In part thanks to Ms. Merkel, none did. 
But the question is that for years she was accused of governing so effectively from the center that her coalition sucked all the oxygen out of German politics. Today there’s so much oxygen that some fear combustion. 

As Merkel steered her country through crises on the trot and left others unattended, there was change that she led and change that she allowed. She decided to phase out nuclear power in Germany. She ended compulsory military service. And she managed to increase the share of Renewable energy sources in Gross German power production while plummeting coal's consumption. 
When it came to breaking down her country’s and party’s conservative family values, she was more timid but ultimately did not impede the progression. 

It was an unusual outburst, one that underscored a growing unease about her methods and her achievements. After all, the pandemic bared Germany’s lack of digital services, the urgent need to overhaul its public health service and the vulnerability of the economy’s supply chains. The floods in July, in which over 200 people lost their lives, were a tragic reminder that Germany will not be spared by the perils of climate change. Against this backdrop, the prospect of change — no matter how familiar the candidates — has become more appealing. 

Just a couple of years ago, Ms. Merkel was garlanded as the “leader of the free world.”  Against the chaos and upheaval of Mr. Trump, her sober, judicious style was widely envied. Now, in a twist of history, different qualities are wanted. 
I’m pretty sure there will be many moments in the not-too-distant future when Germans will painfully miss Angela Merkel. 

And yet: It is time. Tschüss Mutti.



  1. Indeed! Woman of a Kind!
    It was so well researched by the author! And surprisingly all the stats and data mentioned are so very accurate. Perfect blend of the fact and opinion! Just what I want to see these day

  2. Hmmm though she could manage the refugee crisis more systematically��
    Very informative, nice read����

  3. Ohhhh, Its great to see you articulating every crisis she faced si nicely

    And btw I like your consistency, something a lot of youngsters lack. Gr8

  4. I am a German, and I relate...Excellent leader.
    Thnx for bringing this story up

  5. I am too pretty sure we will��


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