The world media summarize the term of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) – and expect changes. The British weekly The Observer writes that coalition talks could drag on for months – during which time Merkel will, in practice, remain in office. “The uncertainty over who will replace her is a big change from the often predictable politics of the past 16 years. But one should not get too excited about it.”
Neither SPD candidate for chancellor, Olaf Scholz, nor his CDU opponent, Armin Laschet, offer radically different programs: “Both men are betting on continuity while advocating small, incremental changes. That is the problem.” – writes The Observer. The election campaign has brought to light important issues that were ignored under Merkel.
Characteristic hand positioning
As the Swiss weekly “SonntagsZeitung” writes, the “Merkel rhombus” (Angela Merkel’s characteristic hand position) has become a symbol of “new German modesty” and thus a symbol of the “triumph of reputation management.” Germans have fallen in love with this kind of nationalism. What will be left after Merkel leaves? “The country? Weary, if not plunged into depression. Its economy: thriving as if nothing had happened. If we had to point to one thing for which we Swiss admire the Germans, it would be the fact that they have managed to survive every regime.”
The Milan daily Corriere della Sera looks back on Angela Merkel’s years in office with nostalgia. Germany is saying goodbye to “the mother of a nation that protected it for almost two decades, prevented dangers and threats, and guaranteed prosperity and security.” Merkel has created “a historic example of public morality and ethics.” But it is also necessary to look to the future to leave behind an era that was “happy but no longer tenable.”
“A matter-of-fact, pragmatic style”
The New York Times also describes the (positive) changes in Germany during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 16 years in office. The country is one of the richest in the world and has developed a large and satisfied middle class. Among other things, by accepting refugees in 2015 and 2016, she has managed to make Germany a country somewhat less “determined by history.” What was lacking, however, was concrete action on climate protection and sustainability.
“Merkel’s ‘matter-of-fact, pragmatic style’ has shaped politics for the past 16 years,” writes the Spanish daily El País. However, the chancellor has remained “close to the daily lives of her compatriots.” The representative of the political center has almost always pursued “sensible policies that avoid extremes.”
“The Guardian” believes that recent polls suggest that coalition negotiations may be dragging in Germany. Even if it doesn’t come to a situation like the Netherlands, where 17 parties entered parliament after the March elections, Germans must prepare for a change in the political landscape. “The Washington Post” reports from Berlin about undecided voters, among other things. Whoever replaces Merkel will face countless challenges in domestic and foreign policy, the newspaper writes.