by Rino Pellino

September 24, 2021 Men have never made Angela Merkel's political life easy. When she was elected to the helm of the CDU in 2000, no one believed it would last long. He had to get the party out of the scandals that had swept Helmut Kohl and cast shadows on his designated successor, Wolfgang Schaeuble. In 2005, the congress chose her as a candidate for the chancellery against the social democrat Gerhard Schroder: a mission considered suicidal. I remember - I was still a correspondent - the t-shirts of a group of girls: “Schroeder is the wrong man: three women prove it”. A reference to the three divorces of the incumbent chancellor who was about to marry his fourth wife (… in the meantime it has reached five). Angela Merkel won those elections by a narrow margin. Schroeder tried to argue that he should lead the Great Coalition,a woman would not have been able to ... History has proven it wrong.

An anecdote that, however, photographs the sixteen years of chancellorship that I was able to follow as a correspondent. More than governing, Angela Merkel administered Germany thanks to the harsh reforms of the welfare state launched by Schroeder that tore the relationship of the SPD with its base (a crisis from which it cannot recover) and that made the economy run. And it will be thanks to another Social Democrat, his Finance Minister, Peer Steinbrueck, who will be able to quickly overcome the most serious global financial crisis since that of 1929. In these sixteen years Angela Merkel has very often stolen issues from her opponents. The exit from nuclear power was decided by the red-green government in the late 1990s. Merkel had blocked her. But then restore it after the accident at the Fukushima plant.In this way she becomes the green chancellor, stops the flight of consensus from environmentalists, but then in Brussels she blocks any ambitious target on CO2 emissions, to defend her own industries.

Much the same will happen with pensions, minimum hourly wages, same-sex marriages. Battles of the left that Angela Merkel ascribes. In this way it stifles the debate within the party which today finds itself without a leader, torn by internal struggles and conspiracies.

The Greek crisis transformed it into the most hated politics in Europe, the opening to welcoming migrants in the chancellor most hated by the Germans. He will always defend the latter choice: "a country that closes its doors to those in need is not my country," he said then. In fact, the doors will then be slowly closed. While aid to Greece will gradually arrive, it will launch the Recovery Plan together with Macron to keep Europe together and restart the economy together.

The emptiness it leaves is already evident today.

Insecure leaders, party proliferation, uncertain electorate and an election campaign that has never had foreign policy among its themes.

With the allies of all time, France and Italy, waiting to know who and in what form - six possible alliances - between the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, the Christian Democrat Armin Laschet or the green Annalena Baerbock will be the next interlocutor in Berlin.

AFTER MERKEL - Germany to vote 

On Sunday 26 September, a special on the political elections in Germany will be broadcast.

From 17.30 to 20.30