implosion of an era

It is the lack of instinct on the part of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier that is remarkable in the award of the highest order of merit to former Chancellor Angela Merkel. Not even within the bubble of Berlin court reporters did the self-adulation trigger applause. The echo is devastating. With his ex-boss, Steinmeier consciously distinguishes a policy for which he shares responsibility as a member of the cabinet and vice chancellor and which has led Germany into chaos.

Light years separate Merkel from Chancellors Adenauer and Kohl, who were the only two before her to receive this prestigious award. Merkel only made history insofar as she betrayed her oath of office like none of her predecessors and left Germany as a political, economic and mental recovery case.

Light years separate Merkel from chancellors like Adenauer and Kohl

Merkel has made a chain of major mistakes: nuclear phase-out, saving the euro, opening borders and mass migration – to name just the most serious low points of her tenure. Part of the whole truth is that, as a rule, they were accompanied on their political odyssey by the tailwind of the media that set the tone. With her unprincipled election campaign strategy of “asymmetric demobilization,” she smashed the last remnants of Christian Democratic politics. The systematic gutting of the CDU consistently led to the founding of the AfD, which was largely driven by ex-CDU members. With her phrase about the “lack of alternatives” she literally swam about the party-political alternative.

How shattered the relationship between the long-term chancellor and her party is, demonstrated the absence of the current party leadership at her award and the ostentatious refusal to congratulate the party leadership. CDU pioneer Andreas Rödder speaks of the “implosion of the Merkel era”. However, the CDU has still not pulled itself together for an overdue general reckoning because the official apparatus is still dominated by members of the Merkel nomenclature.

In Merkel’s speech, the terms “people” and “nation” evaporated

One of the enduring images of the Merkel era is a million-share video recording of a CDU victory celebration, where she collects a German flag on the evening of the 2013 federal election, which General Secretary Hermann Gröhe is waving around with a beaming smile. Perhaps it was only Grohe’s childish exuberance that repelled her. The film becomes iconographic because in Merkel’s public speech the terms “people” and “nation” evaporated and the German was to dissolve beyond recognition. To an unrecognizability, to which she has also ground down the principles once represented by her party.

JF 17/23

Follow @dieter_stein

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