It was February this year, when I wrote about Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, here on my blog. Back then, the backdrop to my post was yet another complete change of policies (I forget, which one exactly it was in February), one time too many explained with a totally illogical argument: alternativlos (meaning “it is without alternative”), for my liking.
To give you an idea: after the nuclear incident in Japan, her policies reversed completely and were all of a sudden as “alternativlos” as her old ways once were. All nuclear power plants in Germany are to be closed down, after years of boosting the industry. I asked myself, how could she change her views so profoundly, the topic being something, she must be an expert in. After all, she is a studied physicist, the Dr. rer. nat. title in her name stems from her doctoral thesis about decomposition reactions. So, she either believes in this technology, or she doesn’t. Overall, I got the impression, so many have of politicians: she is not to be trusted, she would support what supports her power and grants her the votes. And after the incident in Japan, the majority in Germany was against nuclear power sources, so she tagged along.
But maybe I didn’t credit her with the ability to learn and change her views. Which might result in U-turns in politics. Or maybe she was always of a different opinion but never saw fit to change policies effectively, using the change in public opinion after the accident in Japan, to push her original opinions into fruition.
But now, with the refugee situation and the way, she formed her own opinion and takes a stance against even her own party folks, who strongly demand a limitation of refugees streaming into the country, I am impressed. We all know, she is a conservative. For years she has defended the Dublin Convention and Schengen Agreement, by which Europe is to control it’s outward borders, not letting people in at the same time granting free travel and residency within for it’s citizens. Everyone who does manage to get into Europe, is to stay and to be dealt with in the country of arrival. When she saw, that this was totally unpractical, unfair to the border countries and inhuman on top, in the current situation, she took another U-turn in policies. Opening Germany’s border for refugees to come in, even unregistered.
And this time over, she does take a stance. I haven’t heard her using the term “alternativlos” with the current situation, at all. To the contrary, she explains, what the alternatives would be (like building a 3.000 km long fence along Germany’s terrestrial borders, just shoot people as they try to get over it and have the Navy patrol the coastlines at the North Sea, not taking in those drowning at the shores). And she says, her choice is, to do what she has done. Defending herself with the words: “Germans should know, what my idea of my country is and what I stand for.” Insisting, that the country can and will be able to deal with the crisis. Urging the population, to follow her idea of humanity.
Mrs. Merkel is not one to parttake in TV shows, but she did appear on Anne Will’s show now, a political talk show usually hosting four or more guests to debate the week’s topics. She was the only guest, explaining for almost a full hour, why she does, what she does. I think, she did very well and am honestly impressed.
I rarely express political opinions, maybe because I don’t have that many. Or the ones I do have, are not represented by one party or the other. Thus, my blog seldom deals with politicians (my dislike for the late Jörg Haider of Austria and his successors being an exception to the rule). But I have to say, Mrs. Merkel has risen in my estimation a lot, lately. I might even go as far as to say, her decision and handling of the refugee crisis will define, what will be written about her in history books. I just hope, the chapter in the book won’t end with the remark, that this ended her reign.