If every nation gets the leader it deserves, what would Angela Merkel’s smashing victory on Sunday say about Germany?
It would show that Germans are cautious, prefer consensus to confrontation in their politics, and dislike pizzazz in their politicians. They both want a united Europe and despise southern European states that can’t manage their finances. At least, that’s how they are for the moment. (European politics, even in Germany, are febrile these days.)
Angela Merkel has achieved a rare fusion with a nation into which she was not born. Merkel is the daughter of an East German, socialistic Lutheran pastor, passionately fond of opera, fluent in Russian and moderately good in English, with a doctorate in quantum chemistry. But, as an approving German woman told the BBC, she is now seen as “one of us.”
She’s done it partly through building consensus, which has been her most avidly-sought political choice. She has appropriated center-left positions, like abolishing the German military draft, raising the minimum wage and proposing higher pensions for older mothers. There was also the sudden conversion to the anti-nuclear cause in 2011 and the banning of nuclear power stations.
Her recent campaign, everywhere described as bland, appeared to attract rather than repel. When the Social Democratic challenger, Peer Steinbruck, employed his “rough, didactic and not very diplomatic” style against her in debates, he was seen as macho-rude rather than plain-speaking. German fans gave Merkel the nickname of mutti (mom), and who can stand by while someone’s rude to another’s mom?