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Et Cetera

Auf wiedersehen, Bundeskanzlerin Merkel

By December 13, 2021April 6th, 2022No Comments
Angela MerkelDavid Iliff

I started in 2009, which seems like almost a lifetime ago. Back then I hadn’t yet thought seriously about becoming a translator, my now-teenage sons were preschoolers, and I hadn’t yet moved to the home where I’ve now lived for over a decade. (And don’t even get me started on the broader changes in our world.)

And so it is all the more remarkable that, in 2009, Angela Merkel was already in the midst of her fifth year as the Federal Republic of Germany’s first woman chancellor, and the first chancellor to hail from the former GDR. She went on to serve for eleven more years, shepherding her country through numerous geopolitical crises, and demonstrating—despite some missteps—that “effective politics need not mean shedding humanity or steadfastness, and that being underestimated may be the true key to political longevity.”

I’m eager to see where Olaf Scholz and his traffic-light coalition will take Germany next, but in the meantime, I’ve enjoyed looking back at what journalists and other pundits had to say about Bundeskanzlerin Merkel over the years. Here’s a non-exhaustive selection from

Fragen Sie die Bundeskanzlerin!”  Now you can interview Angela Merkel and keep up with the German federal government on YouTube.  (The Next Web, 10/19/11)

“Angela Merkel has found a fashion formula she likes, and she’s sticking to it.”  (The Guardian, 10/9/12)

“Die Patin,” the “Iron Frau,” “Europe’s most dangerous leader”? The media can’t resist clever nicknames and character studies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.  (The Guardian, 8/15/12; The Economist, 8/25/12; The Washington Post, 9/11/12; The Guardian, 9/20/12; Financial Times, 12/14/12)

So Europe is dis-integrating, and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union earned only 26% of the vote in Nordrhein-Westfalen. But on Twitter, @Queen_Europe still reigns.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/14/12)

The day after: Post-election analysis of Angela Merkel’s “resounding,” “stunning,” “depressing” victory.  (Bloomberg, 9/23/13; Financial Times, 9/23/13; The New York Times, 9/23/13; Spiegel Online – International, 9/23/13)

“The world’s most powerful leader isn’t Obama or Putin—it’s Angela Merkel.” (The New Yorker, 12/1/14; The Guardian, 12/22/14; Vanity Fair, 1/2015; The Guardian, 1/7/15; The Globe and Mail, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15)

Months into the worst refugee crisis since WWII, how is Angela Merkel faring?  (Financial Times, 10/26/15; The Spectator, 10/29/15; Spiegel Online – International, 11/2/15; The Washington Post, 11/6/15; The Economist, 11/7/15)

Are refugees still welcome? “The screenplay for Merkel’s downfall hasn’t yet been written, but an initial rough draft already exists.”  (The Economist, 1/23/15; The Atlantic, 1/25/16; Spiegel Online – International, 1/25/16)

“It could still be awhile before Angela Merkel cedes power, but it’s clear that we’ve entered the late phase of Merkelism.”  (Spiegel Online – International, 12/15/17)

When Merkel met Trump . . . low expectations were duly met.  (The Economist, 3/18/17; The New York Times, 3/18/17; AICGS, 3/22/17)

Angela Merkel has been “outfoxing, outlasting, and outmaneuvering full-of-themselves male rivals” for a very long time.  (Foreign Policy, 1/31/17)

“It’s no problem at all for a man to wear a dark blue suit a hundred days in a row,” Angela Merkel tells Die Zeit, “but if I wear the same blazer four times within two weeks, the letters start pouring in.”  (Zeit Online, 1/28/19; The New York Times, 1/30/19)

“The leader of the free world gives a speech, and she nails it.”  (Intelligencer, 3/18/20; The Atlantic, 4/20/20)

“In a belated plot twist, the German chancellor is the heroine of a new novel detailing her post-chancellery career as a hobby detective. Get off the stage, Miss Marple, it’s time for Miss Merkel.”  (The Irish Times, 4/16/21)

“Angela, Angie and sometimes Merkel: For some refugee families who traveled to Germany during the migrant crisis of 2015 and 2016, gratitude for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to welcome them comes via a namesake.”  (The New York Times, 9/19/21)

As her 16 years in office draw to a close, how should we interpret the legacy of Chancellor Angela Merkel? Here’s a collection of answers from some of the brightest Merkel-watchers in the English-language media.  (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2021; Bloomberg, 6/9/21; The New York Times, 6/12/21; The Washington Post, 7/15/21; The Irish Times, 7/24/21; The Guardian, 8/31/21; The New Statesman, 9/13/21; The New Statesman, 9/15/21; The New York Times, 9/25/21)


Image credit: Armin Linnartz, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <>, via Wikimedia Commons