Angela Merkel has not only been repeatedly ranked “the world’s most powerful woman;” she is also the only German chancellor since 1949 to have successfully led her party to a “normal” victory after a full term heading a grand coalition from 2005-2009. Merkel’s ability to lead has been shaped by the dynamics of coalition politics, proportional representation, and German federalism. Perceived as a more successful leader under an exceptional grand coalition than under a typical CDU/CSU-FDP constellation, Merkel provides a one-woman-laboratory for comparing the impact of different coalition modes on the chancellor’s powers and limitations on her ability to rule. The study offers a two-level analysis, comparing Merkel’s performance atop a “gender balanced” Grand Coalition (2005-2009) with Hans- Georg Kiesinger’s maledominated Grand Coalition (1966-1969). It then contrasts leadership dilemmas confronting Merkel during her first term with those arising during her second chancellorship, 2009-2013. It urges scholars to “bring the institutions back in” when considering the skills female leaders must evince in order to manage divergent coalition types: grand coalition configurations may, in turn, require men to adopt leadership behaviors usually ascribed to women in order to prove effective cross-party managers.
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.
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.
Four inter-related factors shaped the 2017 campaign of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU: (1) ambivalence over her successful modernization of the CDU; (2) fallout from her 2015 refugee policy; (3) a party strategy that bred complacency while mobilizing skeptics; and (4) tactical miscalculations. Merkel’s CDU/CSU came in first, but suffered record losses, while the rightwing populist Alternative for Germany emerged as Germany’s third party. The campaign, its result and—with a fragmented and polarized party system— her need to build another grand coalition all seemed sure to fuel recrimi - nations within the CDU/CSU over identity, strategy, and personnel in a post Merkel era.
Whither “Partners in Leadership”?
In 1989, U.S. President George H.W. Bush presented a vision of the United States and Germany as “partners in leadership” in building a peaceful and secure post Cold War world. A confluence of factors brought this vision closest to realization during the overlapping tenures of U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Persistent limitations and shifting conditions including the election of U.S. President Donald Trump now call the future viability of the vision into question, even as U.S.-German ties remain the most plausible anchor of cooperative transatlantic ties in a period of global change.
The elections for the German Bundestag on 24 September 2017 saw heavy losses for the two governing parties—the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD)—and the rise of the rightpopulist Alternative for Germany (AfD). It took almost six months for a new grand coalition to be formed in light of the extremely fragmented parliament. Despite the good economic situation and relative calm domestically and internationally, much change is occurring under the surface. Most importantly, the country is preparing for the end of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s long tenure. Who and what will come next? Can the surging AfD be contained? Will Germany step up into the leadership role for which so many have called?
Assessing Rigidity and Flexibility in Angela Merkel’s Political Decision Making
This paper investigates levels of rigidity and flexibility in Angela Merkel’s decision making during her first three governments from 2005 to 2017. The study is a contribution to understanding German politics in the era of Merkel who has regularly been criticized for allegedly lacking a transformative agenda and ideological consistency. Methodologically this study draws on Jonathan Keller’s framework that differentiates between internally and externally validated leaders, with the latter seeking to appease and curry favor with stakeholders and the former committed to their personal believes. The study assesses Merkel’s decisions on fiscal and economic policies, zooms in on her u-turn on nuclear energy, touches upon her dithering during the Euro crisis and discusses at some length her protracted coming to terms with the refugee crisis. Findings suggest her flexibility to be predominantly a reflection of political expediencies and intended to preserve her party’s political compatibility with potentially supportive stakeholders. Her approach thus is in line with the agenda to manage coalition governments successfully, moderate and conciliate divergent interests and thus secure their position in power.
Unpacking Gender Images across Angela Merkel’s Four Campaigns for the Chancellorship, 2005-2017
Joyce Marie Mushaben
Angela Merkel’s four national election campaigns offer a unique opportunity to explore the salience of gender in defining “competent leadership” in unified Germany. Women-friendly themes were deliberately avoided by the candidate and her party during her first two campaigns, but Merkel’s personal popularity rendered gender a positive asset during her third run for the Chancellorship in 2013. The 2017 campaign accorded new salience to gender as an electoral variable, albeit with a twist. The new dilemma for Germany’s first female leader was rooted in the need to win back alienated, if apolitical conservative men, attracted to an increasingly xenophobic Alternative for Germany. Although the GDR gender regime actively supported working women, eastern men appear to feel particularly threatened by the concrete advances towards gender equality witnessed across Germany since unification.
The German Party System Before and After the 2017 Federal Election
Frank Decker and Philipp Adorf
The 2017 federal election illustrated the transformation of Germany’s political party system with six parties managing to enter the Bundestag. With the Christian and Social Democrats finally coming to an agreement almost half a year after the election, a grand coalition is set to govern for two consecutive terms for the very first time. The Alternative for Germany’s success also signaled the definite parliamentary establishment of right-wing populism in Germany. Multiparty coalitions that bridge ideological gulfs as the political fringe has grown in size are a new reality that must be accommodated. The 2017 election and subsequent arduous negotiations point towards a period of uncertainty and further upheaval for Germany’s party system.
The bureaucratic politics of the German decision to bailout Greece reveal that policy proposals from the Office of the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Finance to cope with the crisis in Greece stood to benefit those specific ministries. Centered on a national/supranational cleavage, policy debates in the second Angela Merkel government revolved around whether the European Union should be delegated more power in terms of broader Eurozone macroeconomic governance. Angela Merkel rejected broader treaty revisions insisting on strict adherence to the Stability and Growth Pact and the large-scale participation of the IMF. Conversely, Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble opposed IMF involvement and advocated for increased EU competency including support for the French proposal to institutionalize the Eurogroup. The policy positions of these two organizational actors remained deeply conditioned by organizational interests, rather than partisan or ideological divides over conceptions of “European Unity.”