We’ve heard of Donald Trump, Theresa May, Malcolm Turnbull, but what about Angela Merkel? With the G20 being all over the news in the preceding months and Trump all over the news for the wrong reasons, Merkel has been a stand out figure, so who is she? What should we know about Angela Merkel? Political reporter CLAIRE WEBBY digs deep.
The leader of Germany has been the topic of discussion on the internet as of recently, with a video of her rolling her eyes when in a conversation with Vladimir Putin going viral (we all would have done it).
As you probably know, most of the time there’s more to a person than what we see on the internet. So, what’s the deal with Angela Merkel? Should we like her or is this going to be a repeat of my Mike Pence article? I’ll let you decide.
Merkel has been the Prime Minister of Germany since 2005, and is the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The CDU was created in the aftermath of World War II and many of the first members had been involved in the resistance movement while the Nazis were in power. This party follows the beliefs that it ‘offers a political home to all Germans, regardless of religion, social class, occupation, gender or age’. The first leader of the CDU was Konrad Adenauer. He was the leader of Germany in the 14 years after the war. His leadership brought forth the lost stability and trusted relationships between Germany and other European countries. The popularity of the CDU is pretty evident, in the 68 years since the Federal Republic of Germany was introduced, 48 have been under the leadership of the party.
Angela Merkel takes the title of the first female chancellor of Germany. She has been described by the Independent as “the leader of the free world”, a title that people often leave reserved for the President of the United States. However, with the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement by President Trump which for some, was the final straw, more people are beginning to agree with this statement. With that in mind, a question arises: what has she done to earn this title?
In her time as chancellor, Merkel has faced some heavy criticism internationally and from her home country. As the leader of Germany at the time of the European debt crisis she was questioned by many on how she handled it. In case you’re unsure, the European debt crisis occurred because some European countries couldn’t pay the debts that they needed to, you can find out more here.
Some people believe that Germany, under Merkel’s leadership, was the cause of the crisis, whereas some people believe she was the solution. While many countries in Europe were suffering immensely in this time, Germany seemed to flourish. Under Merkel’s leadership, Germany avoided a long term economic decline (or recession). She also shut down a portion of the country’s nuclear reactors (the rest of which will be shut by 2022) after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Another worthy mention is her introducing of a minimum wage which ensures that lower class workers can earn a reasonable salary. So as you now know, Angela Merkel (as well as her party in previous years) has had a big impact on Germany and Europe in general.
Despite all the things that have been achieved by Merkel, there are still people (nationally and internationally) that aren’t fond of her. Of course, the first person that comes to mind is Donald Trump who seems to have more bad relationships with countries than good, Germany is no exception. Despite previous White House Secretary Sean Spicer saying Trump has a lot of respect for her, and they get along well, both Merkel and Trump have indicated the contrary.
Angela Merkel stated at a campaign event that “the times in which Germany could rely fully on others are over” and many believe Merkel is merging away from the UK and US. Trump of course went to twitter to fire back a response and criticised Germany for apparently not funding NATO and the military well enough. Trump also refused to shake Merkel’s hand at a meeting at the White House earlier this year, despite Merkel’s request.
Obviously, the US isn’t the only country in the world and Germany has relations with others. The relationship between Australia and Germany is described as warm and vibrant, with both countries sharing opinions on various global issues. The same can be said for France, the two countries are said to be each other’s most important partner. If I explained the relationship between Germany and each country in the world, we would be here for a very long time, I think it’s fair to say that overall, despite having differences with some, Germany is in agreement with many countries.
Based on the things that I learnt from writing this article, and that you will read in this article – I think it’s OK to assume that apart from the occasional disagreement with President Trump or President Putin, Angela Merkel has been and continues to put Germany in a reasonably good place.