Person of the Year 2011 The Merkel Moment

Why the German chancellor created confidence at a time of distrust and uncertainty. 
Editor-in-Chief Gabor Steingart, the international bestselling author. Quelle: Frank Beer

Editor-in-Chief Gabor Steingart, the international bestselling author.

(Foto: Frank Beer)

DüsseldorfIf this were about Angela Merkel’s achievements as chair of the conservative party and in domestic politics, the eulogist would already have been seized with a writer’s block at this point. What is there to praise, after all? At home, Angela Merkel has not accomplished anything worth mentioning. She is a ditherer, after all. She knows what needs to be done. But she is afraid of the majority of those who do not know. 

As to European policy, we look at the same woman but in a different illumination. At a time when whole nations are upgraded and downgraded like pig halves on the weekly market, when financial markets are flooded and crisis summits are held in abundance, her hesitation contrasts pleasantly with the alarmist behavior of the others. She has not shifted but our perception of her has: We don´t see the ditherer anymore. Now we admire her staying power. 

It is the power of deliberation she now embodies. The heraldic animal of her chancellorship could be the turtle. The most impressive feature of this thick-shelled animal is its ability to always be around. The turtle was already here on earth before the dinosaurs arrived and it was still around when the Tyrannosaurus Rex had disappeared.  Angela Merkel is also simply there – persistently and stoically and full of self-confidence.

She is fighting in a more than unfriendly environment. The Americans wage an undeclared currency war against the Euro zone, their cruise missile is called Moody’s. The modern neutron bomb is Wall Street’s high-frequency trading which over night stripped local stock corporations and states of billions of Euros until the house of Europe stood there rickety like a house of cards. 

She was not granted a partner either to make an impression with. The Americans get drunk on debt. The Lord provided the Italian Berlusconi with a spermatic cord where others have their brain. Manuel Barroso’s cabinet of bureaucrats in Brussels whose creativity amounts to nothing more than calling for Euro bonds is fit to turn even the most benevolent German off the European idea.

The less credit we give others, the more we trust her
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