German elections — it looks like Merkel will keep ‘driving through the fog’
By Harald Daehne in Berlin
Helmut Kohl was the German Chancellor from 1982 till 1998. But he died embittered in June this year at the age of 87.
It’s interesting that from 1990 he supported a young woman from East-Germany, and made her Minister and later Secretary-General of his conservative
Party. Her name: Angela Merkel.
After Kohl lost his Chancellorship in 2001, she saw her chance: In a party donation affair she forced her former patron to resign from the honorary chair of the party.
In this Merkel acted very calculatedly and coldly against Kohl. Then she captured the leadership of the CDU. Kohl never forgave her.
Angela Merkel has now been Chancellor since 2005. If she wins the elections to the German Parliament next month, she could rule for a further four years — in total as long as Kohl: 16 years.
Things look good for Merkel
Today in Germany there are summer holidays and things look good for her:
- The election campaign is very quiet.
- The slogans of the parties sound very similar.
- No scandals, and no mistakes from Merkel.
- 35 to 40 percent of Germans want to vote for the conservatives.
- Her opponent is weak; the Social Democrats (SPD), who form second biggest party in Germany, only have 20 to 25 percent in opinion polls.
Schultz, former Euro Parliament leader
Candidate Martin Schultz, former President of the European Parliament hasn’t any chance although he is well respected by people in the street and the media.
But ince 1998 the SPD has lost a lot of credibility. Most Germans want Merkel again. Without enthusiasm, but a lot of confidence.
It’s seems it’s no problem for people if she sometimes changes her mind and hasn’t personal convictions on many important topics.
In a European or international context, Germany is in a good state. For economic growth, public revenue and financing, crime rate, health care system – Merkel’s country is top in Europe.
But the German society is living on feet of clay:
- The infrastructure is too old,
- The German car industry is in an existential crisis,
- Investment in education is too low
- And the integration of refugees and foreign people is too slow. The difference between rich and poor is growing, even among older people. Merkel isn’t modern and she hasn’t answers for future problems.
But Merkel’s way of running the country is like driving in fog: Drive slow and only react if you see a barrier. That’s rational and the opposite to many politicians.
However, she thinks that solving long-term problems or policy is not her business. She puts off dealing with such topics- sometimes with serious follow-ups.
For example, she ignored till the Brexit decision too long until it became a crisis for the European Union. Instead she was fixated on national interests, because the yellow press in Germany forced her to it.
The final Kohl years
The last years of Helmut Kohls Chancellorship from 1994 till 1998 had been an idle time in Germany. No development, the country was solidified. Kohl couldn’t gave up the power to a younger politician.
Will Merkel act the same way? Or will she go to rentirement after two years? Who could be her successor in the CDU? Until now there hasn’t been a prince royal.
The question in 2017 is not whether Merkel will win.
The question is: What will happen during the next four years with her and her party, and with the beaten Social Democrats, as they face all the difficult national and international problems under the surface of a seemingly stable country?