“Battante”, “wisdom”, “Mutti”… The Merkel era as seen by the Germans

On Sunday September 26, the Germans will vote to choose who will succeed Angela Merkel. In power for sixteen years, four times elected, the Chancellor has deeply marked the history of the country. How will the Germans remember the Merkel era? Video response.

“For me, Merkel is above all the ‘Mutti’”. Having become over the years the official nickname of Angela Merkel, this word meaning “Mom” is often the first mentioned when the Germans are asked about the outgoing chancellor. The one that her predecessor Helmut Kohl initially nicknamed “das Mädchen” (“the Gamine”) rose through the ranks with determination until she became, in 2005, the first woman to hold the office of Chancellor.

Whatever their political convictions, the Germans interviewed by International mail are unanimous: all will keep in mind a leader with the character of “Beating” who made history with his “wisdom”, and the “constance” with which she held the reins of the country. In July 2021, Angela Merkel listed the five major crises she has faced since taking office: the 2008 economic crisis, the debt crisis in the euro area in 2011, then the refugee crisis in 2015, the pandemic of Covid-19 and global warming.

“We’ll get there”

And if there is one sentence that can sum up his way of dealing with crises, it’s this one: “Nous y arriverons” (“We create this”). From a historic speech delivered on August 31, 2015, this sentence represented a major turning point for Germany, but also for Europe: as refugees flocked to the gates of Europe, in particular fleeing the war in Syria , Angela Merkel has decided to open the German borders. That year, Germany hosted more than one million refugees on its territory.

A culture of hospitality (Welcoming culture) which is far from having achieved unanimity: the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party, created in 2013, makes immigration its main battle horse. He entered the Bundestag for the first time in 2017, then progressed to the regions of 2019, even coming in second in the Land of Thuringia.

His detractors also blame the Chancellor for sometimes chaotic management of the Covid-19 pandemic. But as her last term comes to an end, it’s time for nostalgia: Angela Merkel will remain in collective memory as a powerful woman, who has established herself internationally, dialoguing with Putin and standing up to Trump . Bye, mom, and good luck!

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