Merkel: with head and heart
Director of the Master in Political & Institutional Communication
That rare combination of competition and proximity. Rare for uncommon. For unusual. That rare combination of head and heart, rational speech and empathy, in its proper measure, without the classic overloading the sentimental. Rare and not common. For unusual. And these singularities, in essence, are the ones that have internationally agreed the perception of a Germany and a European Union with the leadership of Angela Merkel have been in good hands. It has marked differences in background and shape with the thickness of its counterparts from end to end of the globe. And that hole, with the withdrawal of it, is so normal that for many it is seen as an abyss.
The epicenter of the terror of Merkel's goodbye is obviously located in her party, the CDU
Internally, the epicenter of the terror of Merkel's farewell is obvious that it is located in her party, the CDU. The replacement for the outgoing chancellor as headliner, Armin Laschet, has already suffered it in the campaign, with the added difficulties that the long shadow of a powerful retiring leadership usually adds to a new candidate. Taking over from Merkel is not the same as taking over from anyone else. She has imprinted her own stamp, not only at the head of the German government but also at the head of a coalition between the CDU and the Bavarian CSU, which she with her continued victories was able to compact despite the difficulties with the authority of the leader who ends up being placed a span above the rest. With the moral authority of someone who adds to an impeccable behavior a spirit that is also imposed at the polls. Ethics and aesthetics. Even the Social Democratic candidate, Olaf Scholz, a member of Merkel's last coalition government with the SPD, has tried to establish himself as the most Merkel-like of the candidates to succeed her. And the electorate seems to have bought it, faced with the unsettling prospect of opting for a different model, with or without the blessing of the outgoing leader.
But the shock wave of fears of the post-Merkel era surpasses German borders. Like her own leadership. In the United States, for example, the president was described by the media as "the new leader of the free world" after the departure of Barack Obama, with whom by the way she always had an excellent relationship and who indicated to him the responsibility of leading Western democracy when he left office. Almost nothing. Although, without a doubt, where her baton will be missed in the first place will be in those European institutions that in recent years have hung so much by a thread, shaken by strong economic, political, values, operational crises and even a pandemic.
The shock wave of fears of the post-Merkel era surpasses the German borders. Like her own leadership.
The UK left. France faces elections also shortly, with an Emmanuel Macron, at a minimum until then, with his own order of priorities. Italy once again has another technocrat at the helm. And, in general, populisms and extremisms grow in parallel with discontent, in European societies that seem collapsed (not only mentally) due to difficulties that are used unscrupulously by leaders like Viktor Orbán in Hungary. The regression in rights that are being experienced in countries like this or like Poland is a challenge of dimensions that are difficult to assume without leaderships that can at least approach that of Merkel. In fact, because not even she herself has been able to fully contain that strong surge.
The film Merkel (2020), by Stephan Wagner, is a fictionalized adaptation of the best-seller about the chancellor, played by the prestigious actress Imogen Kogge. It recreates the most complex stretch of her mandate, when in 2015 and faced with the uncontrolled entry of one million Syrian refugees into Germany, she was forced to once again lead the EU in the face of a difficult challenge that put her very existence at risk, just like that of the we have understood since its constitution. It is impossible not to empathize with that woman, especially if you compare her reflections and her actions with those of a majority of her travel companions. It will not be easy to find again the formula that in this physics doctorate in quantum chemistry, she has been so right in the combination of head and heart, when both things are so necessary in the right measure.