Dear Dr Angela Merkel,
Your journey as Chancellor of Germany has inspired and motivated people all around the world. In the wake of your choosing to step down, I want to highlight your accomplishments over your impressive political career.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 propelled you into government, when you became a member and spokesperson of the Democratic Awakening Party. This party was created during the 1989 Revolutions and eventually started collaborating with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The Democratic Awakening party dissolved in 1990 and merged with the CDU. You won a seat in the ‘Bundestag’ in 1990 after running on behalf of the CDU and became their chairperson in 2000. Over the next decade you would serve as Minister for Women and Youth as well as Minister for the ‘Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, und nukleare Sicherheit’ (BMU), or in English, the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear safety. Your time as minister of the BMU would have a major influence on your policies throughout your tenure as Chancellor.
After the CDU lost the majority vote in the 2002 election, you were elected as Opposition Leader, which made you the first female, and non-Catholic to hold that position. You held this position until 2005, when at age 51, you became the youngest and first female Chancellor in Germany’s history.
Your initial campaign platform was focused on modernising Europe’s economy, reducing unemployment, and deregulating the labour market. Since you took office, there have been no major spikes to the German unemployment rates. In fact, unemployment rates have halved from the time of your initial election to 2019.
Additionally, you were one of the first leaders in the world to consider climate change policies. You introduced the ‘Energiewende,’ or energy transition, in hopes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing renewable energy sources. The goal of ‘Energiewende’ is to make Germany carbon neutral by 2045. According to the German Ministry for the Environment, since 1990, carbon emissions in Germany have gone down by a little over 40%.
The coalition government of which you were Chancellor introduced the ‘Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetz,’ or Federal Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act. More childcare services were made available and parents could share up to 14 months off work after the birth of their child, while still maintaining 67% of their salaries. This gave parents the opportunity to bond more deeply with their children, which, statistically speaking, allows for better development in brain function, social skills, and emotional wellbeing.
Your government’s handling of the Great Recession in 2008 allowed the country to not go topsy-turvy and gave workers and businesses the ability to keep operating even when times were tough. Your government’s policies helped banks to create a bailout plan and created a stimulus package to assist workers. Shortened workers’ hours made the German government responsible for supplementing workers wages and thus keeping businesses from bankruptcy. Greece was hit particularly hard during this time, and you negotiated with the EU to keep Greece in the Eurozone in return for major economic reforms.
After becoming Chancellor again in 2009 your government made a huge change by abolishing compulsory military service.
During your third term, your government was able to introduce a minimum wage which helped people afford better living conditions. You worked to restore peace after Russia annexed Crimea, which, I believe, got other leaders involved in making sure peace was something we should strive for. You led the way for the rest of Europe in the migrant crisis by allowing migrants into Germany, which was hugely impactful not only on the refugees, but to countries throughout the rest of the world who were reminded that the Geneva Convention is not optional. Your words surely sparked enthusiasm and hope for a lot of people: ‘Wir schaffen das!’ (“We can do it!”).
Your fourth and final term was dominated by your handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your education as a scientist has helped you. I believe you were able to lead not only Germany but the whole of the EU, which ultimately helped lead Europe in fighting the virus. While it’s not over yet, I think you have handled the crisis with reason and pragmatism.
At the beginning of your political career, you were known as “Kohl’s Girl” – referring to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s influence on your progress towards leadership. While he was definitely a mentor to you, you made a name for yourself over time. You became the de-facto leader of Europe and earned the affectionate title, ‘Mutti’ in Germany. You helped the CDU shift from being centre-right to a more centrist party – thus appealing to a wider collection of the German population. You strengthened European cooperation with trade, even leading seven trade delegations to China since becoming Chancellor. You are also the only leader to attend every single G20 summit since they started in 2008. I consider your work in climate change to be revolutionary. Your leadership was often characterised as pragmatic and you worked to stand by your own beliefs while valuing the beliefs of other groups, making workable options aimed at benefiting the masses.
I consider you to be the epitome of female leadership, an example to a generation of girls who looked to you for encouragement and inspiration. A leader in climate change and the economy. You negotiated, mediated, and liaised with countries around the world and encouraged trade, diversity, and reform. You will be missed. Whoever takes the seat as Chancellor after you are gone has large shoes to fill.
Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors.
This article was written by an American in Germany. This reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the opinion of the English Post. The article highlights accomplishments from Dr. Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor and is written in highest regard for her accomplishments.