Angela Merkel is the best world leader alive today, and I will physically fight anyone who says differently. In her time as Chancellor of Germany, she has led the country in a way no other leader could have. Yet, her time as Chancellor is coming to an end.
On Monday, Oct. 29, Merkel announced that her current term would be her last. She plans to step down as leader of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union, before their convention in December. When the next election cycle comes around in 2021, she will not again run for her position as Chancellor.
The announcement comes following losses her party sustained during the last German election this year. Questions have been raised about the CDU’s approach to the Syrian refugee crisis, with many of the other German parties on the right saying that Merkel’s approach has been too lenient. The far-right Alternative for Deutschland party was able to eat significantly into the CDU’s coalition during this year’s elections, and members of the CDU’s east German sister party, the Christian Social Union, responded by bowing into a tougher stance on border controls and deportation and demanding change within the leadership of the CDU.
Following the election, the CDU had troubles building a ruling coalition inside parliament, as plans to build a coalition with the Greens and Free Democrats fell apart as the two junior partners refused to work in a government together over their differences on climate change. Apparently, trying to play matchmaker between a party that focuses on free-market capitalism and a party that focuses on how free-market capitalism is destroying the world doesn’t always work. The CDU was forced to create a coalition with the center-left Social Democrats that both parties have openly expressed dissatisfaction in.
For a government that seems to be in so much disarray, it might seem odd that I would consider its leader to be a larger than life figure worth looking up to. But the disarray of the last few years does little to emphasize the accomplishments that Merkel has achieved in her tenure over Germany, and the unforgiving way in which she has held on to her values.
Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005. To put that into perspective, in the time that she has served as the head of the German state, the United States has had three presidents, the British have had four Prime Ministers and Australia has somehow had seven Prime Ministers. To be fair, that last one is probably more of an Australian problem than an actual representation of the time Merkel has served. They really need to get it together.
Despite the problems that Merkel currently faces, I hold nothing but respect for her. Germany has become one of the leading supporters of refugees in the West under her service. She has more diligently fought fascism and the rise of nationalist sentiment than any other leader, and this is in a country that has a rough past with that sort of thing. Germany has prospered both economically and socially, and the people of Germany have consistently shown their appreciation. Despite the criticisms from the far-right, her approval rating has only dropped below 50 percent once (in 2016) during her 13 years as Chancellor, and she currently holds an approval rating of 54 percent according to German polling agency Infratest Ditmap.
Merkel has consistently shown that she will not only fight for her country, but fight for others. As other countries, our own included, have looked to close themselves off from the world and the problems it faces, Merkel has only embraced it and approached these problems head on. She has shown love for those that most need help, and she has offered it unconditionally and unflinchingly, even when it may have hurt the bottom line of her party.
You don’t find leaders like Angela Merkel often, and we really need to stop and appreciate it when we do. The world could learn something from Merkel and Germany, and hopefully it still will.