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Monday, 29 December 2014
The Paradoxical Strength of Germany’s Merkel
by Immanuel Wallerstein, Commentary Nr. 391, 15/12/2014
Today, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany feels free to criticize openly and even harshly all the powerful nations with which she deals. They all continue to try to court her. She has incredibly high support in German polls, and seemingly in world public opinion. Yet nothing in her background would lead anyone to expect this remarkable show of strength for herself personally and through her for Germany as a nation. This is a paradox that needs to be explained.
She started life as a physical chemist with a Ph.D. from a university in the German Democratic Republic (DDR). She navigated the political scene as a non-participant. She joined the government-approved Free German Youth but did not participate in its coming of age ceremony, preferring to follow a Protestant ceremony. Her father was a Protestant pastor.
She entered political life only at the moment that East Germany was collapsing, and rose rapidly in the transitional government. With formal integration into the German Federal Republic, she became an active member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Elected to Parliament, she was soon in the cabinet, and was considered a protégé of Chancellor Helmut Kohl.