Fatherland to Mutter-land: Angela Merkel and Germany

by Diane Francis

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Polls in Germany today show Dr. Angela Merkel will win the next election, a stunning result despite her steady hand in support of bailing out the deadbeat neighbors in Europe.

She is a political phenomenon and the most powerful female in the world: Germany is fourth largest in economic size and the engine of growth throughout the European Union. But her stature, and Germany’s, is in stark contrast to the “Strong Man” mentality in the rest of the world, including in so-called enlightened nations. She is a brilliant, but modest PhD in Quantum Chemistry, who, appropriately, leads the world’s most modest superpower.

Germany is one of the most fascinating polities on the planet: The only country in the world with youth unemployment at a mere 7% and a high-wage nation that competes against China and all others, roughly matching Chinese exports annually. The country is a welfare state to boot and has assimilated millions of immigrants since the Second World War, mostly Turkish workers who, along with their offspring, number roughly 4.5 million of Germany’s population.

Germany since the war has opted for a soft power. The country rebounded from its national nightmare (some Germans call it national suicide) psychologically from Adolph Hitler’s “Fatherland” ruinous mantra. Sociologically, the male population in Germany was decimated: Millions of men died and the male/Nazi machismo was dismantled. In the two generations immediately following the war, the country was run by a matriarchy as were most families. And since, Germany has been dominated by gentler, kinder, “female” issues such as rebuilding and recalibrating a broken society and country.

Dr. Merkel is the apt custodian of this successful and kinder Germany where taxes are high to look after the less fortunate as well as to bail out the rest of Europe. It’s fascinating that her support grows despite her steadfast belief in the Eurozone, European Union and staying the course despite costs.

Early in her career rivals nicknamed her “mommy” in German. They meant it as a pejorative but that is no longer the case. Germany and Merkel are models for good governance everywhere: Leadership that is trustworthy, empathetic,consensual, non-threatening and smart.

Europe is very very lucky indeed. So is the world.