Whatever her accomplishments as pathbreaking female politician and respected leader of Europe’s dominant economic power, Angela Merkel will go down in history for her outburst of naivete over the issue of migration into Europe during the summer of 2015.
Her announcement on Monday that she will vacate the leadership of Germany’s ruling center-right Christian Democrats marks the culmination of what has been a slow denouement of Merkelism.
She had seen the vote share of her long dominant party shrink in one regional election after another. The rebuke given to her last weekend in Hesse, containing the Frankfurt region with its booming economy, where she had campaigned extensively, was the final straw. Her CDU’s vote had declined 10 points since the previous election, their voters moving toward the further right (Alternative fur Deutschland or AfD). Meanwhile, the further left Greens have made dramatic gains at the expense of Merkel’s Social Democrat coalition partners.
Long the emblematic figure of “Europe,” hailed by the neoliberal Economist as the continent’s moral voice, long the dominant decider of its collective foreign and economic policies, Merkel will leave office with border fences being erected and disdain for European political institutions at their highest pitch ever. In this sense, she failed as dramatically as her most famous predecessors, Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, and Helmut Kohl, succeeded in their efforts to make Germany both important and normal in the postwar world.
One can acknowledge that while Merkel never admitted error for her multiculti summer fling (beyond wishing she had communicated her goals better), she did manage to adjust her policies. By 2016, Germany under her watch was paying a healthy ransom to Turkey to keep would-be migrants in camps and preventing them from sailing to Greece. Merkel’s departure will make the battle to succeed her one of the most watched political contests in Europe. She has turned migration into a central and quite divisive issue within the CDU and Germany, and the party may decide that it has no choice but to accommodate, in one way or another, the voters who have left them for the AfD.
Related to the issue of who should reside in Europe (objectively the current answer remains anyone who can get there) is the question of how are such questions decided. In July 2015, five years after asserting in a speech that multiculturalism has “utterly failed” in Germany (without addressing what policies should be pursued in an increasingly ethnically diverse society) and several weeks after reducing a young Arab girl to tears at a televised forum by telling her that those whose asylum claims were rejected would “have to go back” and that “politics is hard,” Merkel changed course.
For those interested in psychological studies of leadership and decision making, it would be hard to imagine a richer subject. Merkel’s government first announced it would no longer enforce the rule (the Dublin agreement) that required asylum claimants to be processed in the first country they passed through. Then she doubled down. …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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