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Angela Merkels’ final act is her biggest challenge to date

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The real test for a leader is when he has to go through a crisis. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel could have been forgiven for thinking that after having run the largest European economy through the credit crunch, the eurozone debt problems and the refugee crisis, there could be no longer any big tests to come during his fourth and last mandate.

Despite the fact that her Christian Democratic Party (CDU) is mired in an ongoing identity crisis and has recently been shaken by the resignation of the woman the Chancellor had supported to replace her at the head of the party, Merkel herself- even seemed to be in cruise control.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, the 65-year-old chancellor received the biggest crisis in her mandate and a mandate to save the lives of German citizens, protect the largest economy in Europe and help guide the European Union through the crisis the more devastating that the world has known in decades.

Merkel has come a long way since reunification chancellor Helmut Kohl called her mein Mdchen (that is, my daughter in English), when she started in the Kohls government as minister Federation of Women and Youth in 1991.

After 15 years at the helm, she is still often at the top of opinion polls as the most popular politician in the country, widely called Mutti (which means mom in English) due to the fact that she is considered a kind mother of the nation.

However, in recent weeks, her approval ratings have exploded as she ruled the country from her apartment in central Berlin while limiting herself to about two weeks after being in contact with a doctor whose test was positive.

READ MORE: Germany Merkel says COVID-19 is “greatest challenge since World War II” in rare national TV show“data-reactid =” 40 “>READ MORE: Germany Merkel says COVID-19 is “greatest challenge since World War II” in rare national TV show

Dimap Infratest survey (link in German) for broadcaster ARD, Thursday, April 2, showed that support for the Merkels government has skyrocketed in the past two weeks, with 72% of voters saying satisfied with government management of the crisis. “data-reactid =” 41 “> An Dimap Infratest survey (link in German) for broadcaster ARD, Thursday, April 2, showed that support for the Merkels government has skyrocketed in the past two weeks, with 72% of voters saying satisfied with the way the government has handled the crisis.

When it became clear that the coronavirus had turned into a dangerous pandemic, Merkel, herself a qualified scientist, consulted the experts and deemed the situation serious enough to make the first national television address outside of her mandate of his annual New Year message.

She highlighted what was at stake and urged the Germans to start acting for the common good by staying at home to try to smooth the rising curve of infections.

It is serious. Take it seriously, she said to the nation. Since German unification no, since World War II, there has been no challenge for our country in which our united action is so important.

READ MORE: Germany says goodbye to black zero with 750 billion coronavirus package“data-reactid =” 45 “>READ MORE: Germany says goodbye to black zero with 750 billion coronavirus package

Then Merkel, with her vice-chancellor and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz, took the unprecedented decision to lift the brake on the constitutional debt which legally prohibits Germany from taking on new debt to release a fiscal stimulus package of 750 billion ($ 660 billion, $ 810 billion) to save jobs and protect the economy.

Germany’s response to early testing, to testing, coupled with decisive action on social and economic blockages has proven wise. The COVID-19 country’s mortality rate is significantly lower than, for example, Spain and Italy.

Johns Hopkins University data. “data-reactid =” 48 “> As of Monday March 6, Germany had 100,168 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,590 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 18: In this photo provided by the German Government Press Office (BPA), German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the nation through a video statement on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on March 18 2020 in Berlin, Germany. It is the first time in her 15-year tenure as chancellor that Merkel has addressed citizens directly through a TV statement other than her New Years message. (Photo by Steffen Kugler / Bundesregierung via Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the nation through a video statement on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on March 18, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Steffen Kugler / Bundesregierung via Getty Images

Merkel has gone through many crises since becoming chancellor in 2005, including the refugee crisis, where she opened Germany’s borders to around one million refugees, many of whom were fleeing the civil war in Syria.

His response to the refugee crisis, summed up in his well-managed sentence (wir schaffen das), did not go far enough to reassure the Germans that the country could effectively deal with it and seriously injured the CDU in the general elections of 2017. Voters deserted the center-right party en masse and boosted the Far Right Alternative for Germany (AFD), which first entered national parliament as largest opposition party.

Stefan Schneider, German chief economist and managing director of Deutsche Bank Research in Frankfurt, told Yahoo Finance UK that Merkels’ approach to the coronavirus crisis is conservative in terms of saying that we should not risk anything to lighten prematurely locking in because of the risk of a second the wave, which then makes everything more expensive, is obviously obvious and as a politician, she plays carefully.

What else should she do? She does not want to be blamed at the end of her last term for being reckless with the health of the German public, added Schneider.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Minister of Finance and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrive for the weekly cabinet meeting on March 11, 2020 at the Chancellery in Berlin. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP) (Photo by TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP via Getty Images)

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister of Finance and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrive for the weekly cabinet meeting on March 11, 2020 in Berlin. Photo by Tobias Schwarz AFP via Getty Images

Germany has been pressured in recent weeks by leaders of other European states to agree to borrow as one and pool their debt, something Berlin has long opposed. Some commentators have noted that the way Merkel responds to the call to authorize mutual borrowing, likely in the form of so-called corona bonds, could shape the future unity of the EU, as well as its own legacy as most powerful leader in Europe.

Write in the Guardian Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday that either we respond with unwavering solidarity or our union fails. “data-reactid =” 100 “>Write in the Guardian Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday that either we respond with unwavering solidarity or our union fails.

short-term work program, but added that the new measures and the current European stability mechanism were not enough. “data-reactid =” 101 “> He welcomed the ECB’s emergency purchasing program and the 100 billion EU commissions short-term work program, but added that the new measures and the current European stability mechanism were not enough.

It is time to act in solidarity by creating a new debt pooling mechanism, by acting as a single block for the purchase of essential medical supplies, by establishing coordinated cybersecurity strategies and by preparing a major emergency plan. to ensure a rapid and robust recovery of the continent, he wrote.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the heads of eight other eurozone countries, including France, also called on the European Union to support the joint debt in the form of corona bonds.

Merkel is firmly opposed to the common responsibility for the debt, affirming recently that with the MES, we have an instrument of crisis which offers many opportunities which do not call into question the basic principles of our common but responsible action.

Schneider of Deutsche Bank Research says that Germany is already showing solidarity and a willingness to pay its fair share by supporting the measures of von der Leyens. He believes that, to a large extent, certain countries use this extreme situation as a lever to bring European tax pooling to another level.

In this regard, and I think it is a bit unfortunate, the debate on European solidarity is essentially an exercise in twisting our arms to find out if we are achieving fiscal pooling in Europe, notes Schneider.

The EU split on this issue has overwhelmed the bloc since the financial crisis. Germany was firmly opposed at the time, and ultimately the solution was the European stability mechanism to lend to countries in need.

From Schneiders ‘point of view, the titles on Merkels’ inheritance depending on his answer to the question of the common debt are just another way to put pressure on Germany, then you read and they suggest that Merkel opens the portfolios of German taxpayers. If it is essentially a demonstration of leadership in spending your people’s money, I am not convinced, he said.

Carsten Brzeski, chief economist of ING Germany, told Yahoo Finance UK that a corona bond could have had the charm of being extremely symbolic, but as an economist, I think it would make no difference because we are currently in a situation where tax rules have been applied. renounced, the ECB buys everything on the market, we have the MES, so the costs of financing the countries of southern Europe are clearly not high so that’s not the problem.

Brzeski notes that a corona bond is not a quick fix and that even with it, the Italian debt and the Spanish debt would also start to increase. Regarding this problem defining Merkels’ legacy, he says that she is not a great visionary in terms of economic policies, whereas she is a fantastic crisis manager and this time, they [the German government] reacted even more quickly to economic policies.

The ING economist says that if Merkel wants to show solidarity, it is unlikely to open the way to debt pooling.

A combined photo shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sworn in as Chancellor on (left to right) on November 22, 2005, October 28, 2009, December 17, 2013 and March 14, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. / Photo taken on November 9, 2018 / REUTERS / Staff

A combined photo shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sworn in as Chancellor on (left to right) on November 22, 2005, October 28, 2009, December 17, 2013 and March 14, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. / Photo taken on November 9, 2018 / REUTERS / Staff

Bild (link in German), to reflect on the question of whether the pandemic virus could give him a fifth term. “data-reactid =” 133 “> The popularity of Merkels at home due to their handling of the coronavirus crisis has so far led to some, including the largest newspaper in Germany Bild (link in German), to reflect on the question of whether the pandemic virus could give it a fifth mandate.

There is still no clear leader in the race for the CDU to become its next party leader and chancellor candidate in the 2021 general election, and they will not be voting on it until the second half. of this year.

However, the chancellor, who turns 66 in July, has always argued that this was definitely her last term. She even hesitated to run for office again in the last general election in 2017.

Brzeski says crisis should last much longer for Merkel’s idea to come up again is even a possibility: I think she won’t run for a fifth term, because I think she did her best to be honest, he said.

Assuming that this crisis lasts longer, or that the virus reappears, or that, in one way or another, the corona was still quite concerned about the rest of this year, everything will become more fragile and I could imagine more than the party will ask him to run again. ; I don’t think she really has the ambition to start over.

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