Angela Merkel: Germany's Global Cover Story For 16 Years

Approaching Angela Merkel's final days in office, we take a look back at the major chapters in her reign as German Chancellor and an unlikely political icon on magazine covers around the world.

As Angela Merkel makes her final preparations to leave the world stage, it's hard to imagine what politician could fill the shoes of the woman Germans came to call "Mutti": the mother of the nation. Having spent most of the first 35 years of her life in the former East Germany, trained as a quantum chemist, this unassuming daughter of a Lutheran pastor had an unlikely rise to lead Europe's largest country for a generation.

Fast forward to today, and Germany's first female leader is heralded both at home and abroad as a supreme tactician, skillful problem-solver and guarantor of European stability.

Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld summed up Merkel's achievements in an interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT: "She is well-read, she is calm, she thinks ahead in a world where everyone is nervous, moody and short-sighted."

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German Election: How Far-Right AfD Hit Its Ceiling

Germany's anti-immigrant far-right party has so far been unable to benefit from the decline of the Merkel's CDU party and find new voters.

BERLIN — When the results of the German federal election arrive Sunday, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party should have something to celebrate: the party, which has made nationalist, anti-immigration rhetoric a staple of its electoral program, could become the leading political party in the states of Thuringia and Saxony. In addition, the party is likely to elect several members of Parliament in the two states.

Security is also a major concern.

And yet, increasingly, we say that every AfD gain is relative. While the AfD may be making small gains in some German states, its share of the vote is poised to decrease compared to the last federal election in 2017. In nationwide polling surveys, the party has been stuck between 10-12% for months: While the ruling CDU hemorrhages voters as it seeks to build its future after the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the far-right doesn't seem to have been able to exploit the opportunity. Its modest advances are largely happening in places that were already party strongholds, like Saxony and Thuringia.

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Merkel's Legacy: The Rise And Stall Of The German Economy

How have 16 years of Chancellor Angela Merkel changed Germany? The Chancellor accompanied the country's rise to near economic superpower status — and then progress stalled. On technology and beyond, Germany needs real reforms under Merkel's successor.

BERLIN — Germans are doing better than ever. By many standards, the economy broke records during the reign of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel: private households' financial assets have climbed to a peak; the number of jobs recorded a historic high before the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020; the GDP — the sum of all goods and services produced in a period — also reached an all-time high.

And still, while the economic balance sheet of Merkel's 16 years is outstanding if taken at face value, on closer inspection one thing catches the eye: against the backdrop of globalization, Europe's largest economy no longer has the clout it had at the beginning of the century. Germany has fallen behind in key sectors that will shape the future of the world, and even the competitiveness of its manufacturing industries shows unmistakable signs of fatigue.

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Afghan Refugee Crisis: Why Merkel Closed Her Open Border

The Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 ignited a bitter rivalry between Germany's Angela Merkel and Austria's Sebastian Kurz. Merkel was in favor of a "culture of welcome," while Kurz argued for border protection. But with the current Afghan refugee crisis, the German leader is shifting course.


BERLIN — Six years ago, the now outgoing German Chancellor,Angela Merkel argued that borders cannot be divided by walls. That was on Oct. 26, 2015. Her future Austrian counterpart, Sebastian Kurz, disagreed. "It's simply not true to claim that it doesn't work," he said in an Austrian radio interview. "The question is whether we want to do it or not."

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Jacques Schuster

Will Afghanistan Tarnish The End Of Angela Merkel's Tenure?

The German leader's aloofness on the collapse of Afghanistan has surprised many. For the past few months, her government has taken the issue too lightly and failed to debate it properly. This could prove a big mistake in her last weeks as German chancellor.

Anyone who summarizes Angela Merkel's government statement on the situation in Afghanistan comes up with the same words: "somewhat stupid." The coolness with which the chancellor and her government are approaching the collapse of the Afghan state has been breathtaking. It almost seems as if Merkel and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz have agreed to talk about abstract mistakes, in an effort to consign the Afghan failure to history's rubbish heap as quickly as possible.

Merkel is helped by the fact that she's about to leave: Her 16-year tenure as chancellor will end in less than a month. And four weeks before the election, hardly anyone seems to want to ask hard questions and uncover the breadth of the Afghanistan debacle. But this is what is urgently needed to draw the necessary conclusions for future operations. The Bundestag federal parliament could have used its meeting on Wednesday to set up a committee of inquiry, but it wasted this opportunity.

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Bertrand Hauger

COVID-19: Ventilation May Be Hidden Key To Reducing Spread

Germany has made the airing out of closed spaces a centerpiece of its recommendations for limiting contagion. Others, including the CDC, are also touting the benefits.

After months of fighting the spread of COVID-19, a number of protective measures have made their way into our daily routine: We wash our hands, sneeze into our arm, wear a mask, social-distance and elbow-bump. But another potentially crucial weapon in combatting the virus has gone underreported in many parts of the world: ventilating closed spaces.

Ventilation's biggest fan: Though the science is still divided, ventilation has moved to the center of government recommendations in a country respected for its pragmatism and scientific rigor: Germany.

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Green Or Gone
Audrey Garric

Greta! Will COVID-19 Make Or Break The 'Climate Generation'?

Although the coronavirus pandemic is dominating global politics, Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg and her peers are hoping to turn their activism into tangible policy change.

PARIS — For young environmentalists, the date August 20 holds a double importance. First, it marks the two-year anniversary of their movement Fridays for Future: On Aug. 20, 2018, a then-unknown Swedish teen, Greta Thunberg, began a school strike in front of the Stockholm Parliament demanding urgent action in combating climate change. Since then, millions of students have followed her lead, boycotting their classes and taking to the streets en mass.

Then, on this year's Aug. 20, the muse of the fight against global warming, accompanied by three other leading figures of the movement, met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). They presented the Chancellor with a long list of demands, proving that, despite COVID-19, the unprecedented mobilization of the "climate generation" has not weakened.

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Catherine Chatignoux

Angela, Christine & Ursula: Three Wise Women Saving Europe

Which leaders will be remembered from this moment in history? So asks Catherine Chatignoux.


PARIS — Who was behind the response of a massive, solidarity-based recovery plan to the economic and social devastation caused by a devastating pandemic that threatened to deal a fatal blow to the cohesion of the European Union?

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Stefan Aust

Merkel And The Far Right, Why Both Are About To Make History

German elections will see the results of a seismic change within the German political landscape, as Merkel's moderate policies have opened space on the right for extremists.

BERLIN — The legacy of Konrad Adenauer, the first ever chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, was quite tangible, namely a stabilized albeit largely destroyed and indebted nation deeply tied to the West. Willy Brandt's legacy was Ostpolitik, the lean eastward as well as his unforgettable genuflection at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising memorial. Helmut Schmidt left behind a stable and strengthening economy. Helmut Kohl brought about Germany's reunification. And Gerhard Schröder gave us the "Agenda 2010" and the refusal to join U.S. President George W. Bush in the hare-brained scheme that was the second Iraq war.

But what about Angela Merkel's legacy? The economic powerhouse that Germany has become is not necessarily her doing. So what else will she leave behind? How about the sudden nuclear power phase-out, the scrapping of compulsory military service, the demonstrative opening of Germany's borders, a culture of welcome that most recently has also extended to the passage of gay marriage. To cut a long story short: the modernization of her CDU party towards a Christian, green, socially-democratic people's party.

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Torsten Krauel

Macron And Merkel, A New Dynamic Duo To Save Europe

Macron seemed to save the EU all on his own with his bold pro-European victory over Le Pen. But he needs Germany to make a stronger Europe a reality. And Angela Merkel has her own elections to worry about now.

BERLIN — Rest is short-lived in politics.

Here in Germany, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) knows that well. And Chancellor Angela Merkel is about to feel it too with incoming French President Emmanuel Macron. But she also knows everything in politics can change in a day.

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Eric Le Boucher

Have U.S.-Europe Relations Changed Forever?

After Brexit and Trump, Europe is forced to fight back. The precious Transatlantic Alliance may be at risk.


PARIS — The 2008 financial crisis had forced the European Union and the eurozone to fire back with a new artillery of budgetary and banking mechanisms. "Economic Europe" thus moved further toward integration. The current geopolitical situation will lead it to do the same, in the face of a new emergency, regarding defense policy. Donald Trump's statements against NATO have convinced Europeans of the need to take action on its own when it comes to security and financial policy. And since things are moving very quickly these days, these actions will be put to the test right away.

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Paul Lendvai

How Orban Is Trying To Take Europe Away From Merkel

Viktor Orban is the only leader in the European Union who has benefited from the refugees crisis. But his ambitions know no boundaries.

BERLIN â€" For the first time since his momentous victory six years ago, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has tasted a political defeat. The failure of the referendum that aimed to block required European Union allocations of refugees fell short of the necessary 50% turnout at the polls. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to make too much of the political consequences for Orban of this setback.

Lightening fast and powerfully eloquent, he has turned the fiasco into a "tremendous political success," noting that 98% of those who did vote were opposed to the EU refugee policy, and vowing to block any future decisions from Brussels regarding the refugees question.

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Stefanie Bolzen, Sabine Menkens and Peter Praschl

Women Who Rule The World Still Asked "Why Are You Childless?"

British Prime Minister Theresa May is just the latest female world leader who's not a mother. A hard look at a gender double standard that reaches all the way to the top.

BERLIN â€" The two most powerful women of the United Kingdom stood in front of the Bute House in Edinburgh, shaking hands â€" Theresa May, the new British prime minister and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. “Politics aside â€" I hope girls everywhere look at this photograph and believe nothing should be off limits for them,” Sturgeon wrote on Twitter shortly after the summit. Her message was retweeted more than 30,000 times.

Both Sturgeon and May made it to the top in politics, but that’s not the only thing they have in common. Neither leader has any children. And they aren’t the only female leaders who aren’t mothers â€" German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye also don’t have children. But even as there’s increasing acceptance of different lifestyles, these women are forced to justify their choices in spite of, or maybe because of, their success.

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Gaspard Koenig

Long Live The Elites! A French Elite Tells You Why


PARIS â€" In the northern German state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) defeated Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in local elections. In the United States, the Republicans chose Donald Trump as their candidate for the White House. The British voted for Brexit. Italians elected as mayors of Rome and Turin two representatives of the Five Star Movement, headed by comedian-turned-political-insurgent Beppe Grillo. And next year the French will, in all likelihood, send Marine Le Pen through to the second round of the presidential election. In short, every Western power represented in the G8 (with the notable exception of Canada) is just that close to sending their traditional elites away for good. Thank you and goodbye!

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American Empire On The Stump

Beyond the Middle America stump speeches and coast-to-coast pancake breakfast stops, a U.S. presidential elections is also very much a global event. All the talk of the decline of the economic, political and cultural might of the American empire starts sounding a bit premature every four years, as November approaches. So this morning, it’s no surprise to see Hillary Clinton’s return to the campaign trail, after a much-talked about near-fainting episode, on the front pages of newspapers in Spain and Italy, Greece and Chile.

The Democratic candidate’s recent stumbles have brought closer the prospect of victory by her rival, Donald Trump â€" a man the world has watched call for a ban on Muslims, a wall to keep out Mexicans and a cold shoulder to NATO allies. German weekly Der Spiegel writes that this is “Trump’s Hour.” Left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz summed up much of the sentiment abroad with this morning’s headline: "A Trump Victory Suddenly Seems Possible, Though Still Unthinkable."

Egypt’s Al-Ahram daily felt it even needed to reassure its readers that Trump's often shocking policy statements about Muslims and the Middle East won’t necessarily come to pass. Stands taken by candidates for the White House “do not always get implemented on the ground after they take office."

Meanwhile, the real attraction of this year’s race may not be policy, so much as the psychodrama. Swedish magazine Modern Psykologi takes a look at both the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns on a psychological level, putting the Donald on its cover under the headline "In Trump's head." The Republican candidate is surrounded by words like "ego", "fear of dying", "us & them", "nationalism" and "terrorist threats." This is how the American Empire may start to look to the rest of the world.

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