domingo, 20 de novembro de 2016
Modest Merkel seeks reelection
Modest Merkel seeks reelection
Conservative chancellor bets on her reputation as a Stabilitätsanker (anchor of stability).
By JANOSCH DELCKER 11/20/16, 10:24 PM CET Updated 11/20/16, 10:45 PM CET
BERLIN — Germany’s down-to-earth Angela Merkel confirmed Sunday that she will seek a fourth term as chancellor but dismissed “absurd” talk that she is the last hope of the West.
Instead, the conservative leader — described hopefully by one U.S. paper as “the liberal West’s last defender” after Donald Trump’s election victory — said her preoccupations were as much security and refugees as, “What will happen to our automobile industry in 10 years? What will happen to our chemical industry? What will happen to our engineering industry?”
It was classic Merkel: Despite her continued popularity after 11 years in office, the 62-year-old pastor’s daughter raised in communist East Germany knows the electorate likes its leaders to have their feet firmly on the ground. Referring to the hagiographic headlines, she said: “This honors me, but I also perceive it as grotesque and almost absurd.”
If she wins another term next autumn and completes the four-year term, Merkel will match the 16-year record of her mentor Helmut Kohl. Formally, the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) first need to reelect her as party leader in two weeks’ time — hence the phrase on Sunday: “I am willing to run for office.” There is little doubt the CDU will endorse her.
While the center-left Social Democrats (currently part of her ‘grand coalition’) will struggle to put up a strong contender, the chancellor predicted with some justification that “this election will be difficult, like no election before — at least not since the German reunification.”
“We will have to deal with attacks from all sides,” Merkel told reporters.
Speaking at the Berlin headquarters of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel put next year’s vote in the context of a European and international “challenge to our values and our interests. [It is] an international situation in which, carefully put, the world has to rearrange itself after the elections in the United States and when it comes to the relationship with Russia.”
In that environment, the CDU will hope Merkel retains her appeal as a Stabilitätsanker (anchor of stability), with a primary focus on what has long been considered a core competence of the conservatives: Shoring up Europe’s largest economy.
‘You know me’
For almost a decade, through the global financial crisis, the eurozone debt crisis and even her sudden decision to ditch nuclear power and accelerate the transition to renewable energy, the chancellor was a byword for stability. Under the simple slogan Sie kennen mich (You know me), Merkel secured 41.5 percent of the vote in 2013, almost 16 points ahead of the SPD.
But in September last year she unleashed a torrent of criticism from her own conservatives and the fringe far-right by granting refuge in Germany to hundreds of thousands of migrants, many from Syria and other war zones, who were stranded in Hungary.
Since then, the conservative bloc comprising the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has seen its popularity tumble to around 33 percent in opinion polls, while the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has climbed from 4 percent to around 13 percent, as well as winning seats in 10 German state assemblies. It looks set to win its first seats in the Bundestag (lower house of parliament in Berlin) next autumn.
Merkel has managed to silence most of her internal critics by pushing through mechanisms to speed up the deportation of rejected asylum-seekers and emphasizing the CDU and CSU’s core Christian values. Last month, for instance, she encouraged party cadres at a regional meeting to sing traditional Christmas songs with their children.
By repeatedly delaying her announcement to run for a fourth term over the past few weeks, Merkel gave herself time to ensure broad support within the CDU and neutralize any potential resistance
“At some point, even her critics had no choice but to endorse her,” said one CDU official in the Bundestag.