DRIVING MS. MERKEL
During Angela Merkel’s reign as Chancellor she has been a cautious and wily politician.
She has been able to assess and re-assess situations, get things done and built her personal popularity into one of almost an unassailable level. She has become so well liked that the German populace has of late been referring to her as “Mutter” Mother.
It is a rule of nature that all good things, at one time or another, come to an end. There now appears to be at least a question as to whether that time has come for Mother’s political career. Her “open door” policy in terms of the refugees from the war in Syria has brought about a strong negative reaction from many Germans. It has strengthened a far right party, the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD) and has caused many in her own party (CDU) to begin to think about internal alternatives to her.
There is a legitimate question as to what drove Frau Merkel to jettison her caution and open Germany to perhaps 1,00,000 Islamic-Syrian refugees. Here in the U.S. some of our political leaders are wary about admitting any Islamic people. How about 1,00,000 into a country with much less of a population than ours?
To get a handle on what is propelling the Chancellor forward, I came across a column in Der Spiegel by Markus Feldenkirchen and René Pfister entitled, The Isolated Chancellor: What Is Driving Angela Merkel? which grapples with the question.
The authors note, “Chancellor Angela Merkel spent a decade amassing political capital. Now, with the refugee crisis showing no signs of abating, she has decided to spend it. With her legacy in the balance, she has finally found an issue to fight for. But why now?
The screenplay for Merkel's downfall hasn't yet been written, but an initial rough draft already exists. CSU head Horst Seehofer intends to heap pressure on Merkel for as long as it takes until she changes course.
It hasn't come that far yet, but a critical mass is slowly coalescing. In a letter to the chancellor last week, 44 conservative parliamentarians voiced their opposition to Merkel's course. On Wednesday, Austria announced the introduction of a cap on refugees. The chancellor is becoming increasingly isolated.
As much as the decision to open the borders itself, what amazes many observers is the stubbornness with which Merkel has maintained her political course. Neither the terror attacks in Paris nor the sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in Cologne -- neither the indignation of furious German citizens nor the warnings from within her own party -- has led Merkel to question her decision to keep Germany's borders open. It seems as though Angela Merkel -- à la Vaclav Havel -- is convinced that her course of action makes sense. No matter how the situation turns out.
From Merkel's perspective,[Peter]Altmaier [Merkel’s Chief of Staff] explains, this is what the world looks like: In order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe late last summer, she had little choice but to open the borders. Now, the task is that of preventing Europe from falling apart. Were Germany to now close its borders, it wouldn't just mark a failure for Europe's border-free travel regime known as Schengen. The refugee flow would also backup across the Balkans and would destabilize the fragile young democracies there.
Greece would become overrun with desperate refugees from Syria and Iraq while Jordan and Lebanon, which are already hosting almost 2 million refugees, could be pushed to the brink of collapse. The alternative is a deal with Turkey, the country through which almost all the refugees have to travel.
That, at least, is the official version. When speaking with Merkel's people, her refugee policies come across as being entirely rational. Like a chain of political necessities.
How about what moves her personally – from inside?
…in an appearance on a popular prime-time political talk show moderated by Anne Will, she repeated her message from the airplane almost word for word. Merkel, for whom almost nothing is less appealing than being forced to talk on television, smiled often during that talk show. On many other issues, you can see by the way she speaks that she doesn't really care about what she's saying. But on this issue, it is completely different. "She was more passionate than usual," says Will, who has interviewed Merkel several times, in hindsight. During the show, Will says, she often thought to herself: "She seems looser, more unfettered in her choice of words. She seemed at peace with herself, almost gleeful. That was new."
[At Brussels summit meeting]… Merkel said nothing at first, a person present at the meeting relates. Only later, after a couple other heads of government had their say, did Merkel … say: "I lived behind a fence for too long for me to now wish for those times to return." Merkel, the refugee crisis has made clear, has found the courage to justify her politics with her own biography. She no longer wants to be the woman without a face.
[Former Hamburg Mayor] Dohnanyi knew Merkel's parents and he believes that her Christian roots are very apparent in her approach to the refugee crisis. "She is the daughter of a socialist pastor. And her mother was an extremely devout woman. Such things are deep within you, they don't just disappear," he says. The Kasner family (Merkel is the name of the chancellor's first husband) adhered to a practical form of theology that involved helping the poor, sick and disadvantaged, Dohnanyi says.
Merkel grew up with the tenet that, if a stranger is standing in the rain before your door, you let him in and help, he continues. "And when you let them in, you don't grimace," Dohnanyi says. "Christians don't do that." Merkel herself recently said something similar. "We hold speeches on Sundays and we talk about values. I am the chair of a Christian political party. And then people come to us from 2,000 kilometers away and then you're supposed to say: You can't show a friendly face here anymore?"
Pastor Eppelmann [a friend from the former East Germany] is likewise convinced that Merkel's approach to the refugee crisis is deeply rooted in her past. "She stands on a solid foundation that was poured in her childhood and youth." He also points out that her childhood home was not a normal Protestant parsonage; rather it was a church-run home for people with disabilities. Angela Kasner grew up surrounded by disabled people who needed to be cared for. "She breathed in empathy like air and oxygen," says Eppelmann.
Later, Eppelmann goes on, Merkel also experienced what it is like to be pushed around by a regime. She initially was not granted a slot at university despite being best in her class. "Such an experience can break a person," Eppelmann says. As such, Merkel can understand what it must be like for people fleeing Islamic State or the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.
There’s more to this very interesting article. To get some genuine insight into what makes the Chancellor tick, you should read the entire piece which you can by clicking of the link below.