As chair of the CDU in 2000, and of its joint Bundestag caucus with the CSU in 2002, Angela Merkel was the fist woman and fist easterner to head a major German party; she had risen as a protege of Helmut Kohl, but breaking with him over his financial improprieties vaulted her into power. These features of her biography made her leadership unconventional. So too did her style, characterized by interpersonal reserve and lack of charisma. Merkel's views on cultural issues and economic policy-in particular, reform of the welfare state-were more liberal than those of her Union's mainstream. Finally, her resources within the CDU/CSU were limited to a loose network of younger outsiders, who helped sustain her against rivals at the Land level. While Merkel survived a poor CDU/CSU election in 2005 to become chancellor, her time as opposition leader suggested that she would struggle in that role too, yet also served as a caution against underrating her.
Myra Marx Ferree
Considering Angela Merkel as a female candidate raises questions of the extent to which political leadership has become degendered in recent decades. Three issues of gender and politics are considered here: the changes in expectations for women in public life, the shift in defining what is a "woman's interest" and how women may represent such interests, and the degree to which women challenge the "old boys' networks" with alternative connections to women and provide a critical mass rather than just an individual in office. The implications of each of these dimensions for assessing the impact of Merkel on German politics are considered. I suggest that her role can be seen as a feminist one, even if her own politics are not.
Isabelle Hertner and Alister Miskimmon
This article outlines how Germany has sought to project a strategic narrative of the Eurozone crisis. Germany has been placed center stage in the Eurozone crisis, and as a consequence, the German government's crisis narrative matters for the future of the common currency. We highlight how the German government has sought to narrate a story of the cause of the Eurozone crisis and present policy solutions to influence policy decisions within the EU and maintain domestic political support. This focus on the public communication of the crisis is central to understanding the development of Germany's policy as it was negotiated with EU partners, the U.S. and international financial institutions. We draw on speeches and interviews by Chancellor Angela Merkel and two of her senior cabinet ministers delivered at key moments of the Eurozone crisis between May 2010 and June 2012. The article argues that while Merkel and her governments have been able to shore up domestic support for her Eurozone policies, she has struggled to find a coherent strategic narrative that is both consistent with German domestic preferences and historical memory, and with those of other Eurozone members.
Contrary to many common expectations for a Grand Coalition, Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2005-2009 CDU/CSU-SPD government produced few major policy changes. Its modest output is generally attributed to polarized competition between two co-equal, longtime rivals that blocked cooperation. Yet, interparty gridlock was less decisive than intraparty paralysis. The CDU, CSU, and SPD formed a government at the very time when each was plagued by internal divisions over programmatic identity, fueled in turn by interrelated strategic and leadership struggles. The result was caution, confusion, patchwork measures, side payments and reversals.
Angela Merkel came to power at a crucial time in regards to Germany's relationship with its past. Where would she position herself in light of Gerhard Schröder's approach that had offered a new way of accepting responsibility for the past and integrating it into the twenty-first century present by explicitly making it a key element of German national identity, but also in view of her East German biography? Would she continue and maybe even reinforce the institutionalization of Holocaust-centered memory and-given the forceful return of the topic of German victimhood-complement it with the institutionalization of the memory of German suffering, or would she emphasize the latter at the expense of the former? This paper attempts to answer these questions by examining Merkel's politics of the past during her first three years in office.
Almost seventeen years after the Berlin Wall fell, German-American relations represent a mixture of partnership, competition, and a vast network of political, economic and cultural ties which make up one of the most intensive bilateral relations on the globe. A cornerstone of the Euro-Atlantic framework, German-American relations remain of critical importance to both sides of the Atlantic. However, the reasons why that is the case have been in continuous transformation, as the interests and the needs of the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany have responded to the demands of a changing environment during the past five decades, especially since the end of the Cold War. Angela Merkel has stated clearly that she sees a stronger Europe and a stronger transatlantic relationship as two sides of the same coin. While that has been the mantra of many chancellors before her, she has an opportunity to help define what it means today. In setting the priorities and the course of German foreign policy while engaging in an honest and candid dialogue with Washington, Angela Merkel will be building on a mixture of continuity and change within the German debate about its European and global roles and responsibilities.
In the 2009 federal election, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) achieved the worst electoral result in its history. Immediately afterwards, the party worked to improve its public image and fine-tune its policies and electoral message, hoping that state elections in the ensuring period might provide some momentum going into the next national election. Yet, in 2013, the Social Democrats improved their result only modestly, with Angela Merkel and the Christian Democratic/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) again gaining a decisive victory. This article explores the reasons behind the SPD's failure to radically improve its electoral showing, arguing that this can best be explained by a combination of the impact of the past—namely, the legacy of its economic reforms during the Schröder era and the SPD's disadvantages coming out of the previous Grand Coalition—as well as the weakness of its 2013 chancellor candidate, Peer Steinbrück, and the popularity of Angela Merkel. The article therefore suggests that the immediate future does not look particularly bright for the SPD: any chances of gaining the chancellorship are largely out of its hand, dependent on both stumbles by its rival, the CDU/CSU, as well as the taming of a possible coalition partner, the Left Party.
The eighteenth Bundestag elections of 22 September 2013 brought important changes to the Bundestag party system, some of which are contingent but others of which are more systemic and profound. The narrow failure of the FDP to scale the electoral threshold has had an impact on coalition negotiations and the improvement in the overall vote share for the CDU/CSU and the SPD, for the first time since the 1960s represents a significant, if probably only temporary, concentration of the German party system in the Bundestag. More systemically, the election saw a continuation of the ongoing redistribution of voting power in the Bundestag in favor of the catch-all parties as formateurs. The article also discusses how the increased importance of the potential formateuer parties has gone hand-in-hand with a greater focus on the individual leading candidates, and concludes that this is particularly good news for the CDU/CSU, given the political qualities of Angela Merkel and the failure of the SPD to find and support a leading candidate that can match her political acumen.
This article tries to assess the likely trajectory of Angela Merkel's policies toward the EU in contrast to her predecessor's. With Germany taking the European Council Presidency in the first half of 2007, Merkel will have had a year to put her stamp on the Presidency. By contrast, Gerhard Schröder, who took office in October 1998 had only two months before the German Council Presidency of 1999 began. I argue that Schröder's years will be remembered at the EU for a new emphasis on Germany's interests, and the decline of Germany's interest in and willingness to fund "European Grand Projects." Schröder had no great ambitions to follow Helmut Kohl's footsteps in being "reflexively European." Merkel, by contrast, shows signs early in her tenure to follow more closely her mentor's approach to the EU. I examine Germany's EU budget policies, as well as statements and policies toward the Stability and Growth Pact as the main support for the claim Merkel is different in policy not simply rhetoric.
Foreign policy issues did not play a decisive role in the German general election campaign of 2009. While Chancellor Angela Merkel conducted a decidedly presidential campaign, her main rival, SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, found it difficult to break out of his role as Merkel's partner in the Grand Coalition the two had led for four years. This was especially true with respect to issues on foreign policy, where both candidates had cooperated rather smoothly. Neither the issue of Afghanistan (despite the hotly debated Kunduz airstrike), nor the unresolved issues of the future of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty could antagonize the main political protagonists in Germany. The overwhelming foreign policy consensus among the mainstream political forces remained intact. Nevertheless, the changing international landscape and increased German responsibilities abroad will turn foreign policy into a relevant campaign issue, probably as early as 2013, when, presumably, the next Bundestag elections will be held.