“One woman to rule them all()”:http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21586343-german-voters-should-re-elect-angela-merkel-their-chancellorand-europes-leader-one-woman headlined “The Economist” a week ago and portrayed Angela Merkel surrounded by European landmarks. The chancellor herself was standing on a roman column. Not in any particularly imperator-like manner but still larger-than-life. Yesterday, it was the German public that lifted the chancellor onto this column, not an English magazine. The German electorate left no doubt about its support for the political achievements and the governing style of the first East German chancellor.
The fact that Merkel’s party was just shy of winning an absolute majority, shows how strong the support for Merkel’s leadership really is. The last time that her party (CDU) was able to achieve such a majority was in 1957 under Germany’s first post-war chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Any questions left?
As conservative as Merkel herself
Last night, the party concluded –rightfully – that it would be time to canonize Merkel and to thereby rank her amongst the iconic former chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl. That’s as good as it gets. The election result was the copestone of Angela Merkel’s lifework. As a consequence, the CDU won’t be the strongest power in the German parliament; the chancellor, a priest’s daughter, will.
In previous elections, the centre-right party was close to the 40% mark and yet far away from it. This year’s election forecasts, predicting that the CDU could finally achieve to reach the 40%, were mostly greeted with smiles. To assume that the CDU could carry the day in such a striking way, while most of the other parties would struggle to avoid calamity, seemed overly optimistic. Any yet: the CDU’s coalition partner, the FDP, stayed under the 5% threshold and won’t even make it into the Bundestag; the Green Party has also been punished at the polls; and the Social Democrats have only marginally improved their election result and stay far behind Merkel’s party.
It can thus be deduced that a clear majority of the German population is conservative – at least as conservative as Angela Merkel herself. 70% of the CDU voters stated that they don’t oppose fiscal equality of gay couples. Under Angela Merkel, to be conservative is clearly different than what it used to be under Helmut Kohl.
Under Merkel’s leadership, the party has been modernized and rearranged – both in terms of personnel and values. The Social Democrats, just like the FDP and the Greens, can only dream of such a party re-branding. The SPD is governed by three men (not a single woman) who have been in place since 1998. No breath of fresh air to break the mould.
Still, it must be remembered that the stunning result of the Conservative Party also rests on a reinvigorated CSU – the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s CDU. The CSU – just like the CDU – underwent an incredible transformation. Under the leadership of Bavaria’s Minister-President, Horst Seehofer, the party has reinvented itself, and is the unquestionable and driving political force in Germany’s most important state – achieving election results other parties wouldn’t dare to dream of.
Should Angela Merkel decide to form a coalition with the Green Party, she would have governed in three different constellations and would thereby enrich the conservative mindset with an objective pragmatism hitherto unknown. Pax Angelana: the tender imperator has changed Germany and shaped Europe. She should make for four more interesting years.
_Translated from German_