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Angela Merkel's Subtle Climb Into History

After Sunday night's victory
After Sunday night's victory
Heribert Prantl

BERLIN — The all-conquering hero is traditionally a masculine figure, but in Angela Merkel it finds its feminine embodiment. Her election result is more than a victory; it is a triumph. Moreover, it is her triumph, and not her party’s. It is Merkel as an individual, as the chancellor with unprecedented approval ratings, who has won this election.

Thanks to her victory at the polls, Angela Merkel has risen almost to the level of Konrad Adenauer, the leader who won the Christian Democrats’ first and only absolute majority in 1957. That year was the high point of Adenauer’s career. For Merkel, we may one day be pointing back to 2013 as her apex. This election confirms that whatever the next term holds, her time in government constitutes an era – the era of Merkelism, of a subtle, unflashy brand of power politics.

She has been criticized as lacking in conviction. Some say that under her leadership the conservative element of the party has been replaced by a politics of vagueness. But for her many supporters, Merkel is anything but indecisive.

German voters see their Chancellor as the representative of enlightened liberal-conservatism, a politician who does not shy away from recognizing gay marriage. Throughout the euro crisis, she has excelled in the role of the good German Hausfrau (homemaker) keeping a tight rein on the household expenses. And that is exactly what many Germans want.

In Merkel’s hands, power becomes mundane. That is what Germans want too. That is how her own popularity has remained untainted by her coalition’s faltering record. Anything that is going well is thanks to the Chancellor, while anything that goes badly is down to the coalition.

“No Experiments”

In 1957, Adenauer won an absolute majorityof 50.2% with a simple, innocuous slogan: “No Experiments.” The German people certainly didn’t want any. Adenauer had negotiated with Moscow to secure the return of the last war prisoners and could point to the reintegration of Saarland into West Germany as a resounding success.

Merkel has no such spectacular achievements, but the Germans are doing well and they believe that she has led them competently through the euro crisis. Perhaps a rude awakening lies in store on this front, but that remains to be seen. Merkel has been buoyed to victory by the German public’s belief that although almost every other country in Europe is going under, Germany is keeping its head above water.

And so Merkel could conclude her television debate against Peer Steinbrück with a reformulation of the old slogan: “You know me. You know what I want to do. We had four good years.”

Adenauer’s victory 56 years ago was followed by crises that did not show the old man in his most flattering light. He almost lost the 1961 election, and it was only a matter of time until he lost the Chancellorship. But Merkel will not allow that to happen. She is too clever to try for a fourth term in office.

The post-Merkel future is ever more uncertain. The leadership ranks of her CDU party that used to dominate the German political scene have withered. Without Angela Merkel, the party is nothing. That is the flipside of her triumph: when she is gone, it will be time for another party to step up to the mark.

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Big Brother For The People: India's CCTV Strategy For Cracking Down On Police Abuse

"There is nothing fashionable about installing so many cameras in and outside one’s house," says a lawyer from a Muslim community. And yet, doing this has helped members of the community prove unfair police action against them.

A woman is walking in the distance while a person holds a military-style gun close up

Survellance and tight security at the Lal Chowk area in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on October 4, 2022

Sukanya Shantha

MUMBAI — When sleuths of the National Investigating Agency suddenly descended on human rights defender and school teacher Abdul Wahid Shaikh’s house on October 11, he knew exactly what he needed to do next.

He had been monitoring the three CCTVs that are installed on the front and the rear of his house — a chawl in Vikhroli, a densely populated area in suburban Mumbai. The cameras told him that a group of men and women — some dressed in Mumbai police’s uniform and a few in civil clothes — had converged outside his house. Some of them were armed and few others with batons were aggressively banging at the door asking him to immediately let them in.

This was not the first time that the police had landed at his place at 5 am.

When the policemen discovered the CCTV cameras outside his house, they began hitting it with their batons, destroying one of them mounted right over the door. This action was captured by the adjacent CCTV camera. Shaikh, holed up in his house with his wife and two children, kept pleading with the police to stop destroying his property and simply show them an official notice.

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