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Angela Merkel Is Concerned About the Next Election – And With Good Reason.
Her hopes of winning another election rest on the lack of attractive alternatives, not her popularity.
Merkel has made no secret of her admiration for Hillary Clinton. “I admire her strategic thinking and her strong commitment to the trans-Atlantic partnership,” Merkel told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview earlier this year. “Whenever I was able to work with Hillary Clinton, it was a great pleasure.”
But instead of congratulating her old friend Hillary, the German Chancellor was forced to congratulate Republican candidate Donald Trump on winning the U.S. presidential election.
Merkel didn’t even bother hiding her disappointment, issuing a carefully crafted statement that sounded more like a warning to President-elect Trump than a congratulatory message:
“Germany’s ties with the United States of America are deeper than with any country outside of the European Union. Germany and America are bound by common values — democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person, regardless of their origin, skin color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation, both with me personally and between our countries’ governments.”
Merkel’s words were well received by the establishment press, which had just suffered one of its worst defeats and was trying to portray Trump’s victory as an attack on Western values.
British historian Timothy Garton Ash described Merkel’s statement as “the most dignified response I have seen to Trump’s election” and concluded:
“The phrase “leader of the free world” is usually applied to the president of the United States, and rarely without irony. I’m tempted to say that the leader of the free world is now Angela Merkel.”
Likewise, The New York Times and others also declared German Chancellor Merkel the new “leader of the free world” after Hillary Clinton couldn’t take up the role.
In this regard, Merkel’s job is “to defend Western liberal constitutionalism against the politics of resentment and anger,” as Constanze Stelzenmüller of the Brookings Institution put it.
There is a lot at stake in Germany’s 2017 federal election when Merkel seeks a fourth term in office.
“Should she lose, the loss would not just be Germany’s,” Stelzenmüller warned.
Still in shock after Brexit and Hillary Clinton’s defeat, large parts of the political and media establishment in the West are now rallying behind Angela Merkel to support her fight against “the politics of resentment and anger.”
However, the German people are not necessarily keen on renewing Merkel’s mandate. Especially the handling of the refugee crisis has cost her much popularity, but that is not the only reason why many Germans are resentful and angry.
Merkel has damaged three important pillars of German post-war politics: the German welfare state, European integration and German Ostpolitik.
Even before coming to power, CDU leader Angela Merkel actively supported the dismantling of the German welfare state, initiated by SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder with his controversial Agenda 2010.
In late 2005, Merkel then picked up where Schröder left off, personally thanking him in her government policy statement for implementing the Agenda 2010 reforms despite opposition.
A decade later, Germany is near the top of the inequality scale in terms of wealth distribution. The top 10% of German households own about 60% of the country’s wealth, whereas the lower half of households own just 2.5%.
Only a few people benefit from the booming economy while the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. ...
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