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Angela Merkel – Sticking to Her Stance against All Odds

© picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Sohn

© picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Sohn

Germany has been facing huge problems in regard to refugees that have been arriving in the country since last year. One might say, all this is caused by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of accepting refugees and refusing to define a maximum number of refugees Germany will allow into the country. In this regard Germany stands very much alone in the European Union.

Since many people, including politicians in her own party, the CDU (Christian Democratic Union), are starting to distance themselves from her policy, one might say she is isolated. She has also been the target for far right movements like PEGIDA which have taken every opportunity to insult her. But it is actually nothing new for Merkel, even though she admitted in a recent interview that the refugee crisis is the biggest challenge she has had to face till now.

Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during an extraordinary summit of European Union leaders with Turkey at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 7, 2016. © Imago/Xinhua

Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during an extraordinary summit of European Union leaders with Turkey at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 7, 2016. © Imago/Xinhua

There is already a great deal of discussion and debate about Angela Merkel and her policies. I am looking at her now from the perspective of a foreigner who has been living and working in Germany for some years. And I have to admit, I like her now more than ever.

I did not have any special opinion regarding Merkel when she first became German chancellor in 2005. I did not like her party, and cannot say that I like them or their policies now. But over the years Merkel has proved to be a very strong leader. Many of her male opponents in or outside of her political camp have had to admit that as well. In general she was also quite popular among Germans.

Before the refugee crisis, there was the Euro crisis. In handling that problem she showed herself to be a very capable leader, more so than some other EU leaders. She did not seem to care what other nations – most of all Greece – thought about her and her very strict financial policy. She seemed to have seen only one goal and moved constantly in that direction no matter what happened. I thought that was already quite remarkable, since other (male) politicians gradually started following her lead as if they were obeying their strong-headed mother. In fact in Germany Merkel is often called Mutti, derived from Mutter, which means ‘mother’.

During the refugee crisis she has been displaying the same tactics. She does not budge even a bit from the stance she has taken. In September 2015 when the wave of refugees started coming to Europe and Germany, Merkel found herself in the firing line for her open door policy. She stated angrily then, if Germany has to apologize for showing a friendly face to people who are in need, than Germany is not her country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference at end of an European Union summit in Brussels, on February 19, 2016 © Getty Images/AFP/E. Dunand

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference at end of an European Union summit in Brussels, on February 19, 2016 © Getty Images/AFP/E. Dunand

That showed a great deal of belief that she was right. In the last six months Merkel’s popularity among Germans has fallen because people started getting worried and dissatisfied. But after the last interview with Germany’s biggest media broadcaster, ARD, a few days ago, her ratings are rising again. What did she basically say? Nothing new. There is no other plan. No plan B. About six months after her angry rebuttal of criticism of her policies and after the alleged New Year’s Eve sexual assaults on women in Cologne by foreigners – possibly with some refugees amongst their number – Merkel is still sticking to her guns.

She is displaying all the hallmarks of a strong leader. That is what Germany now needs, in the face of the xenophobia and islamophobia conjured up by the far right. That is what those people who have fled the ruins of their home countries need.

As a foreigner in Germany the refugee crisis is “closer” to me than other crisis or catastrophes which Angela Merkel has had to handle. I am thankful that she is Germany’s chancellor. If not, who knows? Maybe we would have witnessed an even greater humanitarian catastrophe. I respect her more than ever now and wish her the strength to carry on with her policies. How long will the crisis last? How much will it cost Germany, a country where I am also a taxpayer? We will see. But one thing is clear, she has helped save many lives. That alone is already evidence of a great politician.

Author: Marjory Linardy

Editor: Grahame Lucas

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Date

08.03.2016 | 11:38

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