“My mother’s ashes”, the autobiographical novel by the American writer Frank McCourt, who also climbed the bestseller lists in Germany, is called “Angelas Ashes” in the English original. The conservative weekly “Spectator” recently put this title over one of the numerous opinion pieces in the British press about Angela Merkel’s legacy.
In the assessment of the author Wolfgang Münchau, the former “Financial Times” correspondent and former editor-in-chief of the “Financial Times Deutschland”, who now offers European analyzes as the head of the online platform Eurointelligence, the outgoing Chancellor is our most overrated leader Time. Perhaps the most absurd claim about Angela Merkel is that she is de facto leading the western world. If you define success as political survival, she was definitely one of the most successful politicians in Europe, but she left behind a divided, not only leaderless but possibly also non-governable EU.
The Merkel legacy
Münchau predicts that the Merkel years will be looked back on as the last hurray of a bygone late industrial era. When it came to an end, people would ask the uncomfortable questions they would not have asked during their reign: “Why hasn’t a rich country like Germany invested in new technologies? Why did Angela Merkel refuse to lay solid foundations for the euro zone? Why did she trade with Putin and make her country dependent on Russia’s mineral resources? Why did she agree to greenhouse gas reduction targets and then fail to meet them? ”If Angela Merkel had indeed been the leader of the entity, she would have done what she could to create a strong, united EU. Instead, chaos reigns. That is the Merkel legacy.
Of course, not all British media take Angela Merkel into court with the same degree of severity as the bluntly Eurosceptic “Spectator”. Conservative commentators in favor of Brexit tend to be more critical than the left-wing liberal press, but their ratings are by no means positive. The Guardian, well-served with its correspondent Philip Olterman, also finds that Angela Merkel is leaving a double-edged legacy. And the Financial Times speaks of the long shadow that the past few months would have cast over their legacy. The pandemic revealed that the Germany that it led for sixteen years was “sluggish, excessively bureaucratic and in many ways stuck in the analogous past”.
Of course, it is not surprising that a left-wing weekly magazine like the “New Statesman” considers the SPD and the Greens to be the best option because the CDU / CSU is hollowed out and lacking in ideas and its candidate for Chancellor Armin Laschet stands for “cumbersome continuity in a Germany that needs more drive ”.
In an editorial, the magazine recognized the pragmatic, non-ideological leadership style of the Chancellor, but criticized that she was too reactive and unwilling to shape and prepare Germany and the continent for the challenges of the future. With the contributions of its foreign policy editor Jeremy Cliffe, who once reported from Berlin for the Economist, the New Statesman has offered its readers some of the most in-depth reports on the election campaign as part of its international and digital expansion plans, including a vivid portrait of Olaf Scholz, of whom one can gain a clear picture from most reports, just as little as from Armin Laschet.
The post-Brexit post-Brexit shift in Britain’s foreign policy ambitions may shift interest to other parts of the world, as Prime Minister Johnson would like. It is striking how soberly and, as a rule, reports on internal German affairs are reported. The affects that aroused minds in the Brexit debate are barely noticeable. Reporting from Germany has normalized. It wasn’t like that for a long time.