This election marks the end of a 16-year chapter in German history led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. We talked to Dr Albert Friggieri – a German scholar and until two years ago Malta’s Ambassador to Germany – about aspects of Angela Merkel’s life and her legacy as Chancellor.
“The highlight of Chancellor Merkel’s career was her great ability to find a way to reach agreement even in difficult situations which seemed impossible. She had a great ability to compromise. “At the same time, she had a strong sense of balance linked to a strong sense of justice. The Chancellor led Germany firmly but not cruelly.”
In addition to being the first German woman to hold the office of Chancellor, she may well be the longest-serving. We will know in the coming weeks according to the duration of talks to form a coalition government. If that happens she will have broken Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s record. Merkel is the first Chancellor to grow up in Communist Germany, in East Germany. From an economic point of view, these 16 years are a very good certificate.
“As the largest country in Europe in terms of population, around 83 million, unemployment is currently definitely not high, it is just over 3%, inflation is just over 1%, some 1.3%, among young people. Unemployment is the lowest in Europe. ”
Controversial in 2015 was her decision to accept the entry of more than a million refugees in Germany. The decision had an effect on the country’s political design.
“Merkel felt that Germany, as the strongest country in the European Union, had a duty to do so, to show that it was ready to help and that Germany was a compassionate country. ”
On the other hand the decision she made gave a big boost to the extreme right. Before that, the extreme right in Germany was skeptical, skeptical of the European Union, skeptical of the euro. ”
Dr Friggieri said two decisions that stand out and show the way Angela Merkel worked as chancellor were the introduction of the national minimum wage, which came into force in Germany six years ago, and the law between same-sex couples. In both cases, her party, the Christian Democrats, were opposed. Merkel allowed the debate and permitted that the vote be taken in parliament, and the laws were introduced.
Analysts say the way Merkel thinks and makes decisions comes from the fact that she is a scientist, specializing in chemistry.
She studied physics and chemistry and generally bases her decisions, even as a scientist, on facts. Her decisions are based on facts, not emotions, with some exceptions, for example the case of the refugees where she had little chance to think and reflect long-term. But she herself says I am sometimes criticized because I take a long time but I like to know everything, to consider the situation well and then decide. I think it is the analytical method that one learns when studying those subjects.
During her 16 year tenure, Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel continued to live in an apartment in Berlin. It is also a known fact that she goes shopping herself, a lifestyle has helped her a lot to keep in touch with people. Four years ago, during a visit to Malta, she also set aside formalities and sought out a kiosk on the shore of Gzira for breakfast before meeting the Prime Minister in Castile.
For 9 years in a row, Forbes Magazine declared Angela Merkel to be the most influential woman in the world.