Transcript: What is Germany Without Merkel? | Oct 05, 2021

Steve Paikin sits at the Agenda news desk. He wears a navy blue suit, a matching tie, and a white pocket square. A monitor behind him shows a red lowercase ‘a’. Paikin interlocks his fingers as he rests his hands on the desk. Papers, a cell phone, and a glass of water sit in front of him.

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel?”

Paikin begins,
ANGELA MERKEL'S FINAL TERM AS
CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY IS NOW
WRAPPING UP. AFTER SIXTEEN
YEARS, SHE OUTLASTED
THREE U.S. PRESIDENTS, FOUR
BRITISH PRIME MINISTERS, AND TWO
CANADIAN PRIME MINISTERS.
A STALWART OF THE EUROPEAN
UNION, WHERE DOES HER EXIT LEAVE
GERMANY NOW? WITH US ON THAT:
IN BERLIN, GERMANY:
MICHAELA KUEFNER, CHIEF
POLITICAL EDITOR AT DEUTSCHE
WELLE, OR DW, A GERMAN PUBLIC
INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTER,
SHE'S ALSO THE HOST OF THE
PODCAST "MERKEL'S LAST DANCE";
AND IN CALGARY, ALBERTA:
PETRA DOLATA, PROFESSOR OF
HISTORY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
CALGARY. WE ARE DELIGHTED
TO WELCOME BOTH OF YOU TO
TVO TONIGHT. PETRA, IT'S GOOD TO
SEE YOU AGAIN. YOU'VE BEEN ON
BEFORE MANY YEARS AGO.
HAPPY TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE.
LET'S START OUR CONVERSATION
WITH AN EXCERPT FROM FOREIGN
POLICY MAGAZINE DESCRIBING THE
GERMAN CHANCELLOR THUS:

Text reads, “Successes Abound. Many glowing retrospectives on Merkel’s tenure depict her as Europe’s savior…When the Eurozone debt crisis threatened to overwhelm EU institutions, Merkel overcame domestic resistance to negotiate bailouts for the hardest-hit Eurozone members…When Vladimir Putin’s Russia annexed Crimea and intervened militarily in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, she kept her cool and took the lead in negotiating the Minsk agreements. During the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015, she showed her humanity-- at considerable political cost-- by letting more than 1 million mostly Syrian refugees into Germany…And during the spring of 2020, she threw her political weight behind the launch of a $913 billion pandemic recovery fund.”

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? Stabilizer, Crisis Averter, ‘Mutti’”

Paikin adds,
THAT FROM FOREIGN
POLICY MAGAZINE. OKAY.
PETRA, START US OFF HERE.
WHEN COMPARED TO OTHER
POLITICIANS, WHAT IS IT ABOUT
THE WAY MERKEL DID POLITICS THAT
MADE HER SO SUCCESSFUL?

Text reads, “Petra Dolata, University of Calgary”

Petra sits at a computer. She wears thick-framed glasses and white headphones over her dark hair. Petra wears a striped white shirt under a black sweater. Behind her, rows of books fill a white shelf.

Petra answers,
I WOULD THINK
THAT SHE'S ONE OF THE FEW
LEADERS OUT THERE WHO IS NOT
FOLLOWING THE NEW VOGUE OF
PERFORMATIVE POLITICS.
I THINK SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN TRUE
TO HERSELF.
AS SOMEONE MENTIONED, SHE IS THE
ADULT IN THE ROOM.
SHE WILL ALWAYS BE VERY
WELL-PREPARED.
AND AT TIMES WHERE WE HAVE
LEADERS WHO CAN BE ALMOST
FLAMBOYANT, WE THINK OF TRUMP,
WE THINK OF OTHERS, SHE HAS
CERTAINLY HAD A LEADERSHIP STYLE
THAT WAS BASED ON EVIDENCE,
SOMETIMES TO THE DETRIMENT OF
QUICK DECISIONS, BUT AS WE MAY
SAY IN RETROSPECT, VERY OFTEN
WELL-FOUNDED DECISIONS.
THIS ALSO MADE HER A VERY GOOD
CRISIS MANAGER, IF YOU WILL,
SOMEONE WHO CAN MEDIATE,
FACILITATE SOLUTIONS IN CRISIS
MOMENTS, AND THAT'S PROBABLY HER
BIGGEST STRENGTH AND SHE HAD
QUITE A NUMBER OF CRISES, AS WE
HAVE SEEN FROM THIS QUOTATION.

Paikin replies,
INDEED. MICHAELA, I HAVE SEEN
YOU QUOTED AS HAVING SAID:
STABILITY IS SEXY IN GERMANY.
WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Text reads, “Michaela Kuefner, Deutsche Welle”

Michaela stands in front of an image of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Her blonde hair rests on her blue blazer. A silver necklace dangles from her neck.

Michaela responds,
IT MEANS THAT GERMANS WOULD
NEVER BE UP FOR A POLITICAL
EXPERIMENT LIKE DONALD TRUMP
TO JUST SEE WHAT HAPPENS.
WHAT GERMANS LIKE IS THAT STEADY
HAND POLITICS FROM ANGELA
MERKEL. SHE IS ALSO CALLED
MUTTI HERE, MOM. SHE TELLS
YOU EVERYTHING IS ALL RIGHT.
AND IN FACT, SHE HAS BEEN A
HUGELY SUCCESSFUL LEADER AND
CARETAKER OF GERMANY, AND I
CHOOSE THE WORD "CARETAKER"
BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME GAPS IN
THE QUOTATIONS YOU JUST READ OUT
BECAUSE WHAT WE DIDN'T GET IS
ANGELA MERKEL SAYING SIXTEEN
YEARS AGO WHERE SHE WANTED TO
BE WITH HER LEADERSHIP IN TEN
YEARS OR FIFTEEN YEARS AND
THAT'S WHERE THE CRITICISM COMES
FROM, ACCUSING HER OF NOT REALLY
HAVING A VISION OF WHERE SHE
WANTS TO TAKE A SOCIETY.
HERE IN GERMANY, SHE WAS THE
FIRST LEADER WHO REALLY
RECOGNIZED CLIMATE CHANGE AS A
KEY GLOBAL THREAT.
ALSO, DIGITALIZATION IS
SOMETHING THAT NEEDED TO BE
TACKLED. THIS IS ALL DURING HER
FIRST TERM, ONE AND A HALF
DECADES AGO.
AND YET JUST THIS YEAR WE SAW A
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING
ESSENTIALLY THAT SHE HAD DONE
TOO LATE TOO LATE, THAT SHE WAS
NOT AMBITIOUS ENOUGH IN HER OWN
CLIMATE POLICIES, AND ON
DIGITALIZATION, WELL, THAT IS
SOMETHING THAT ALL PARTIES
DISCUSSING NOW WHO WANT TO ENTER
THE NEXT, THE POST-MERKEL
GOVERNMENT, SAY GERMANY URGENTLY
NEEDS TO DO HER HOMEWORK.
SO SHE IS AT THE SAME TIME VERY
SUCCESSFUL AT TACKLING CRISES,
BUT EVEN WHEN SHE RECOGNIZES
ISSUES THAT ARE MORE VISIONARY,
SHE DOESN'T REALLY HAVE THE
TRACK RECORD TO BACK UP A LOT OF
THE CREDIT SHE IS GETTING FOR
WHAT IS ON THE WHOLE VERY, VERY
SOLID LEADERSHIP.

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? A Grand Vision”

Paikin says,
LET ME PUT THAT TO PETRA.
DO YOU THINK IT'S A FAIR KNOCK
ON CHANCELLOR MERKEL THAT SHE
DIDN'T COME INTO OFFICE WITH A
GRAND VISION SIXTEEN YEARS AGO
AND HAS NOT GOVERNED IN THAT
FASHION?

Petra answers,
I THINK --
IT'S A BIT UNFAIR TO TELL SORT
OF A LEADER AND POLITICIAN THAT
THEY AREN'T VERY VISIONARY.
I THINK MUCH OF IT DEPENDS ALSO
ON WHAT YOU CAN DO, AND WHILE WE
ARE FOCUSING HERE ON MERKEL, YOU
ALSO HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT IN
GERMANY, A CHANCELLOR IS NOT
LIKE A PRESIDENT. WE DON'T HAVE A
PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM.
SO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO REMEMBER
THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS
THAT SHE HAS TO COMPROMISE ON,
BOTH IN TERMS OF THE POLITICAL
SYSTEM -- I MEAN, THINK ABOUT,
SHE HAS BEEN IN COALITION
GOVERNMENTS.
SHE NEEDS TO MOVE, I THINK, IN A
WAY THAT THIS IS STILL SUPPORTED
BY A MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION.
THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT THERE
HAVE BEEN INSTANCES WHERE
BECAUSE SHE WAS SO
WELL-RESPECTED SHE COULD HAVE
PUSHED A BIT MORE. BUT EQUALLY
SHE IS A LEADER OF A PARTY, THE
CBU, WHERE WE KNOW THERE'S A
LOT OF LOBBYING, FOR EXAMPLE,
FROM CORPORATIONS, ENERGY
COMPANIES, ALL THESE KINDS OF
THINGS THAT ALSO MAKE IT A LOT
MORE DIFFICULT TO GO AHEAD WITH
VISIONS.
I THINK YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO, AS A
HISTORIAN ITS KINDA A THING WHERE
YOU SAY, WELL, COULD
ANYONE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO SO?
YOU KNOW, ANYONE ELSE IN THAT
SITUATION, WOULD THEY HAVE EVEN
SURVIVED THE SIXTEEN YEARS?
AND, YES, ABSOLUTELY, SHE DID
NOT LIVE UP TO A NUMBER OF
THINGS THAT SHE HAD SET OUT TO DO
IN THE EARLY 2000s. BUT THEN
WHO ELSE WOULD HAVE BEEN
ABLE TO NAVIGATE ALL THOSE MANY
CRISES. SO IT'S A BIT
PHILOSOPHICAL AS WELL, IN THE SENSE
WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT, A
LEADER WHO ACTUALLY IS SO
WELL-PREPARED AND CAN NEGOTIATE
AND MANAGE A LOT OF VERY
DIFFICULT OTHER LEADERS ON THE
INTERNATIONAL SCENE, OR DO YOU
WANT SOMEONE WHO HAS A GREAT
VISION?
AND CERTAINLY, THAT'S NOT I THINK
THE PERSONALITY OF MERKEL
EITHER.

Paikin adds,
WELL, WE STARTED BY
READING AN EXCERPT FROM A
FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE PIECE,
WHICH WAS SOMEWHAT LAUDATORY.
THIS IS FROM THE SAME FOREIGN
POLICY PIECE, NOT QUITE SO.
MICHAELA, I'LL GET YOU TO
COMMENT ON THIS AFTER I READ IT
HERE.

Text reads, “Finding Faults. In approaching Europe’s political crises, Merkel’s main political stratagem has been to procrastinate and dither. Merkel became so famous for this approach that German teens turned her name into a verb - merkeln - which became slang for chronic indecision and for saying or doing nothing on an issue…In almost every crisis, Merkel kicked the can down the road - hesitating to take big decisions until the last possible moment and, even then, often agreeing to do just the minimum necessary to keep things from falling apart…
Far more troubling was the substance of many of her policies, which we can simply label “Merkantillism,” defined as the systematic prioritizing of German commercial and geoeconomic interests over democratic and human rights values or intra-EU solidarity.”

Paikin asks,
MICHAELA, THAT'S PRETTY HARSH,
BUT DO YOU AGREE WITH IT?

Michaela answers,
I DON’T WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE
WITH IT. WHAT I AM TRYING TO DO
IS ILLUSTRATE IS HOW MERKEL DOES
POLITICS, AND POLICIES, AND THE
MERKELN, THAT IS SOMETHING SHE
IS INFAMOUS FOR. THAT SHE WAITS
UNTIL THE LAST MOMENT.
SHE DOESN'T PREEMPT ISSUES.
I WOULD LIKE TO SAY WITH THE
CLIMATE ISSUE, SHE IS A
SCIENTIST, SHE LISTENS TO
SCIENTISTS AND SHE DOES WHAT IS
ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. AND IT
WAS HIGHLIGHTED IN HER DECISIVE
ACTION WHEN THE PANDEMIC
STRUCK HERE IN GERMANY.
SHE DID NOT HESITATE ONE SECOND.
SHE DID NOT PROMISE THAT THIS IS
ALL GOING TO BE FINE, LIKE THE
BRITISH PREMIER DID AND SAID,
OH, IT'S ALL GOING TO BE
CONTAINED.
SHE LISTENED TO THE SCIENTISTS.
SHE MADE SURE THEY WERE AT HER
SIDE.
AND SHE ACTED IMMEDIATELY.
THERE WAS NO FURTHER ADIEU.
BUT WHEN SHE TRIES TO BUILD
CONSENSUS OR WITH SOMETHING
COMPLEX LIKE EUROPE, YES, SHE IS
SOMEONE WHO ACTS WHEN ACTION IS
ABSOLUTELY NEEDED BUT SHE DOES
WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MOMENT.
AND ONE ILLUSTRATION OF THAT IS
HER CROSSING HER OWN RED LINE OF
ALLOWING THE E.U., THE
COMMISSION, TO TAKE ON DEBT
DIRECTLY, TO MAKE FUNDS
AVAILABLE TO PAY FOR THE FALLOUT
OF THIS PANDEMIC, TO ALLOW
EUROPE TO COME BACK ON ITS FEET.
THAT WAS MERKEL CROSSING HER OWN
RED LINE THAT SHE HELD ONE AND A
HALF DECADES-LONG FOR FEAR OF
GERMAN TAXPAYERS HAVING TO PAY
FOR DEBT TAKEN ON BY OTHER
COUNTRIES WITHIN THE E.U.
SO SHE MOVES WHEN SHE ABSOLUTELY
HAS TO.
BUT WHEN SHE DOESN'T, SHE TENDS
TO RIDE THINGS OUT.
THE LAST BIT ABOUT VALUES, THAT'S
HER CHINA POLICY.
SHE BELIEVED IN CHANGE THROUGH
COMMERCIAL INTERACTION WITH
CHINA. THE WHOLE PANDEMIC
RECOVERY HERE IN GERMANY IS
ACTUALLY FUNDED THROUGH LARGE
PART BY CAR SALES IN CHINA.
AND WHEN SHE WAS ASKED WHETHER
THAT WAS A MISTAKE, TO BELIEVE
THAT BY HAVING JOINT COMMERCIAL
INTERESTS, BY DOING TRADE WITH
CHINA, YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO
CONTAIN OR CHANGE THE SYSTEM
THERE, SHE CHOSE NOT TO ANSWER.
SHE SAID, WELL, IT'S TIME TO
LOOK INTO THE FUTURE.
SO SHE DID NOT PLAY HARDBALL
WITH CHINA, AND THAT'S ONE OF
THE BIG QUESTION MARKS OVER THE
FUTURE GOVERNMENT, IS WHETHER
THERE WILL BE A MORE DECISIVE
LINE THAT IS LESS IN TUNE WITH
THE FINE BALANCING OUT OF OWN
COMMERCIAL INTERESTS AS WELL.

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? Steady as She Goes”

Paikin says,
WELL, PETRA, LET ME DO ONE
MORE FOLLOW-UP ON THIS.
BECAUSE WE USED TO HAVE A
PREMIER HERE IN THE PROVINCE OF
ONTARIO BACK IN THE 1970s AND
80s NAMED BILL DAVIS, AND
PEOPLE JOKED THAT HIS OPERATING
PHILOSOPHY WAS NEVER PUT OFF
UNTIL TOMORROW THAT YOU CAN
AVOID DOING ALL TOGETHER. NOW
HE WON FOUR STRAIGHT ELECTIONS
AND IS WIDELY PERCEIVED AS BEING
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PREMIER IN
THE LAST HALF-CENTURY.
COULD YOU SAY THE SAME ABOUT
ANGELA MERKEL?
MAYBE SHE WASN’T AS FAST AND
DYNAMIC AS SOME PEOPLE WANTED
BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY SHE’S GOT
A PRETTY GOOD RECORD TO LOOK
BACK ON.

Petra replies,
YEAH AND AGAIN, YOU CAN
LOOK AT IT AS YOU SIT BACK, DO
NOTHING, AND WAIT AND SEE, AND
ONLY IF YOU’RE PROBED, MAKE A
DECISION.
BUT THE REFERENCE TO HER BEING A
SCIENTIST IS VERY IMPORTANT
HERE.
NOW, A SCIENTIST WOULD TRY AND
WEIGH EVIDENCE AND TRY TO GET AS
MUCH EVIDENCE IN AS POSSIBLE.
AND FROM WHAT I HEAR, SHE HAS
BEEN OFTEN DESCRIBED AS AN
ACTIVE LISTENER, FOR EXAMPLE. SHE
WOULD GO INTO MEETINGS ACTUALLY
HAVING READ EVERYTHING AND ALSO
BEING AN ACTIVE LISTENER.
SO I DO SEE HER USING HER
BACKGROUND AS A SCIENTIST FOR
HER WAY OF DOING POLITICS AND
POLICY IN THE SENSE OF, LET ME
GET ALL THE EVIDENCE IN, AS MUCH
AS I CAN.
OF COURSE, THAT'S ALSO
POLITICALLY VERY USEFUL, AS YOU
HAVE DESCRIBED.
BUT THAT SORT OF EXPLAINS -- AND
I SEE THAT IN A MORE POSITIVE
WAY IN AN AGE WHERE EVERYTHING
IS 24/7, EVERYTHING HAS TO BE
DONE VERY QUICKLY, YOU KNOW,
SOMETIMES IT MAY BE USEFUL TO
TAKE THE TIME, AND SHE IS
CERTAINLY SOMEONE WHO USES THAT,
YOU KNOW, VERY ACADEMIC
APPROACH, I ADMIT, AND IT SEEMS
TO BE ALMOST OUTDATED AT TIMES,
AND ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU THEN
COMPARE WITH LEADERS LIKE MACRON
OR OTHERS.
BUT THEN JUST TO COME BACK TO
THE CLIMATE CHANGE CRISIS, I
THINK WHAT SHE REALIZES THAT, IS
YES, SHE IS A SCIENTIST, BUT SHE’S
IN A POSITION, IN A POLITICAL
POSITION.
AND I THINK WHAT SHE REALIZES
IS, THAT IN TERMS OF THE
PANDEMIC, THAT'S SOMETHING THAT
CAN BE DONE ON A NATIONAL SLASH
EUROPEAN LEVEL.
AND WE HAVE SEEN HER SUCCESSFUL
COMING OUT OF THE PARIS
AGREEMENT, FOR EXAMPLE.
I THINK WHAT SHE REALIZES IS
THAT IT IS SO DIFFICULT TO PUSH
FOR A GLOBAL ACTION AGAINST
CLIMATE CHANGE WHEN YOU DO NOT
HAVE A LOT OF ALLIES ELSEWHERE.

Paikin says,
MICHAELA, I WANT TO
ASK YOU WHETHER, EVEN WITH THE
LEADERSHIP THAT SHE DID PROVIDE
BOTH IN EUROPE AND ON THE WORLD
STAGE OVER THE LAST YEAR --
DECADE AND A HALF, DO YOU THINK
IT'S STILL THE CASE THAT GERMANY
IS A RELUCTANT WORLD LEADER?

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? A Reluctant Power?”

Michaela answers,
YES, IT IS.
AND WE SAW THAT MOST RECENTLY IN
AFGHANISTAN WHICH OF COURSE WAS
A HUGE DEFEAT FOR THE WEST AND
ACTUALLY THE GERMAN DEFENCE
MINISTER, WHO FOR A WHILE WAS
SEEN AS A POTENTIAL SUCCESSOR TO
ANGELA MERKEL, SAID SHE HERSELF
WAS SURPRISED AT HOW MANY PEOPLE
ASKED HER THAT GERMANY -- THAT
EUROPE WOULD NOT BE IN A
POSITION TO SECURE SOMETHING
LIKE THE AIRPORT OF KABUL.
GERMANY IS STILL RELUCTANT.
IT IS AN ARMY THAT IS BOUND BY
DECISIONS OF PARLIAMENT.
YOU NEED VERY BROAD MAJORITIES
HERE TO PLAY THE POWER POLITICS
THAT ARE RATHER COMMON IN THIS
SHIFTING WORLD ORDER, LOOK AT
CHINA, LOOK AT RUSSIA, EVEN LOOK
AT THE UNITED STATES.
THERE IS A CONSENSUS, A PUBLIC
CONSENSUS, THAT A SOCIETY IS
REALLY BEHIND ITS OWN ARMED
FORCES.
AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT IS
STILL POLITICAL POISON HERE IN
GERMANY, TO KICK-START THAT
DEBATE.
AND THAT IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT
ANGELA MERKEL DIDN'T START.
SHE DID NOT PUSH PUBLIC DEBATE
IN A DIRECTION TO BE ABLE TO
REALLY CHANGE GEAR GLOBALLY,
ALSO IN TERMS OF WHERE GERMANY
WANTS TO STAND ON SECURITY
POLITICS.
I WOULD JUST LIKE TO CITE ONE
EXAMPLE, BECAUSE WHEN ANGELA
MERKEL ADMITTED THAT SHE DIDN'T
GET AS FAR AS SHE WANTED WITH
HER OWN CLIMATE POLICY, SHE
EXPLAINED IT BY SAYING, LOOK, IT
IS A DEMOCRACY.
YOU NEED TO FIND MAJORITIES.
AND I THEN SPOKE TO THE LEADER
FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE HERE IN
GERMANY WHO SAID POLITICS
SHOULDN'T BE ABOUT FINDING
MAJORITIES, IT'S ABOUT CREATING
MAJORITIES, AND CONVINCING
PEOPLE TO BACK THE POLICIES THAT
YOU BELIEVE ARE RIGHT.
AND HERE ANGELA MERKEL ACTUALLY
HAS A TRACK RECORD OF BEING SHY
TO REALLY FORCE A PUBLIC TO
DEBATE ISSUES THAT ARE WAY OUT
OF THEIR OWN COMFORT ZONE.

Paikin responds,
WELL, HAVING SAID THAT, MICHAELA,
BEFORE MERKEL CAME TO OFFICE, IT
WASN'T THAT LONG BEFORE THAT
PEOPLE REFERRED TO GERMANY AS
THE SICK MAN OF EUROPE.
GERMANY IS NOW UNDISPUTEDLY THE
MOST DYNAMIC ECONOMY IN ALL OF
EUROPE. THEY'RE A WORLD LEADER
IN SO MANY WAYS.
DO YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE ARE
TRULY COMFORTABLE WITH GERMANY'S
POWER TODAY AND THE WAY THAT
MERKEL HAS USED IT?

Michaela states,
YES, THEY ARE. AND I DARE SAY.
WE’RE NOW SEEING HER
CONSERVATIVE CDC BLOC
CRUMBLE BEFORE OUR VERY EYES.
SHE’S LEFT A HUGE VOID. HALF OF
THE VOTERS FOR THE CONSERVATIVE
CDC BLOC THE LAST TIME AROUND
VOTED FOR THAT PARTY BECAUSE OF
ANGELA MERKEL.
SO THERE IS A SENSE OF MOURNING
THAT THIS GUARANTEE OF STABILITY
IS LEAVING THE POLITICAL STAGE,
AND THAT'S ALSO SOMETHING THAT
WORKED VERY SUCCESSFULLY FOR HER
STILL CURRENT VICE-CHANCELLOR,
OLAF SCHOLZ, FROM THE SOCIAL
DEMOCRATS, WHO IS ACTUALLY AT
THIS STAGE THE MOST LIKELY MAN
TO FOLLOW IN HER SHOES AS
CHANCELLOR DESPITE BEING FROM A
DIFFERENT PARTY BECAUSE HE CAME
ACROSS IN A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN
AS THE MOST MERKELESQUE OF THE
CANDIDATES AVAILABLE.

Paikin asks, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Michaela answers,
THAT MEANS THE PROMISE OF
STABILITY AND THAT IS ALSO
SOMETHING THAT HE HAD
ALL OVER HIS ELECTION POSTERS.
HE EVEN DID THIS ON A
PHOTOGRAPH, DESPITE BEING FROM A
PARTY THAT, IN THE PAST, HAS
BEEN THE OPPOSITION TO ANGELA
MERKEL.

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? Filling Her Shoes”

Paikin responds,
I SEE. IN WHICH CASE, PETRA, CAN
I GET YOU TO SPEAK TO THAT?
IF SHE HAS LEFT THIS REAL HOLE
OF LEADERSHIP AND STABILITY
WHICH THE WORLD AND IN
PARTICULAR GERMANY COUNTED ON,
HOW CONCERNED DO YOU THINK
PEOPLE IN GERMANY ARE TODAY OR
MAYBE ACROSS EUROPE ABOUT THE
FACT THAT SHE IS LEAVING AND WHO
KNOWS WHAT WILL FOLLOW?

Petra replies,
I THINK, YES, THEY WILL BE
CONCERNED, BUT THERE'S A
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GERMANS OR
EUROPEANS LOOKING AT IT.
AND I WOULD LIKE TO COME BACK TO
THIS IDEA OF THE RELUCTANT WORLD
POWER.
GERMANY WILL ALWAYS BE THAT
RELUCTANT WORLD POWER.
AS YOU JUST HEARD, IT'S NOT
NECESSARILY SOMETHING THAT
GERMANS ARE INTERESTED IN.
THEY WILL NOT BACK ANY BUILDUP
OF THE MILITARY.
THEY WILL NOT BACK UP ANY
MORE -- YOU KNOW, BIGGER ROLES
FOR GERMANY IN THE WORLD.
WHAT THEY'RE INTERESTED IN IS
ECONOMIC STABILITY, AND THIS IS
SOMETHING THAT THEY HAVE ALWAYS
RELATED BACK TO MERKEL.
THIS IS WHY THEY ALSO SUPPORT
THE FINANCE MINISTER UNDER THAT
SYSTEM, WHO IS OLAF SCHOLZ.
SO, I DO THINK, YES, THERE ARE
CONCERNS BUT THERE ARE SO
MANY THINGS THAT
WILL DECIDE THE ECONOMIC FUTURE
OF GERMANY THAT DON'T
NECESSARILY HAVE TO DO WITH WHO
EXACTLY IS IN POWER AND THIS IS
WHERE IT BECOMES IMPORTANT TO
REALIZE THAT MERKEL, WHILE NOT
BEING A VISIONARY EUROPEAN, HAS
DONE EVERYTHING IN THE PAST IN
ACTUALLY THE GERMAN NATIONAL
INTEREST TO SUPPORT THE EUROPEAN
UNION, BECAUSE WHAT SHE
REALIZES, AND I THINK WHAT EVERY
FOLLOW-UP CHANCELLOR WILL
REALIZE, IS THAT THAT'S WHERE
MOST LIKELY THE ECONOMIC
PROSPERITY OF GERMANY LIES.

Paikin says,
PETRA, WHILE YOU HAVE THE FLOOR,
COULD YOU JUST GIVE US A BRIEF
LESSON IN HOW IT WORKS NOW?
BECAUSE OF COURSE THE ELECTIONS
HAVE HAPPENED, AND NOW THE
NEGOTIATIONS PROCEED TO FIGURE
OUT WHO IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT
GOVERNMENT. HOW DOES THAT
EXACTLY WORK OVER THERE?

Petra responds,
WELL, THIS IS WHERE IT'S NOT --
I KNOW SOME
CANADIANS REFER TO THIS AS A
MINORITY GOVERNMENT.
WE DON'T VOTE FOR A MINORITY
GOVERNMENT.
SO WE VOTE NOT EVEN FOR THE
CHANCELLOR, RIGHT?
THE CHANCELLOR IS NOT ELECTED BY
THE GERMANS.
BUT WHAT GERMANS VOTE FOR IS A
DIRECT CANDIDATE WITHIN THEIR
RIDING AND THEN THEY ALSO HAVE A
SECOND VOTE, WHICH IS FOR THE
PARTY.
AND THEN WE HAVE AN OUTCOME
WHICH DOESN'T GIVE MAJORITY TO
ANYONE, IN THIS CASE.
AND SO CURRENTLY WHAT THESE
PARTIES HAVE TO DO, THEY HAVE TO
SEE THEY CREATE A MAJORITY WHICH
THEN WILL ELECT THE CHANCELLOR.
AND BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT SPANS
OUT THIS TIME, THERE ARE A
NUMBER -- IT REALLY COMES DOWN
TO I GUESS AT THE MOMENT TO TWO
POSSIBLE COALITION GOVERNMENTS
WITH ALWAYS THREE PARTNERS.
SO WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE
MOMENT IS THAT THOSE PARTIES WHO
NUMERICALLY TOGETHER COULD MAKE
UP THE MAJORITY ARE IN
NEGOTIATIONS, AND I KNOW WE
HEARD A PROMISE BY OLAF SCHOLZ
THAT THIS WOULD BE BEFORE
CHRISTMAS BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF
PEOPLE WHO SAY
THIS MIGHT TAKE LONGER AND THIS
IS WHY WE HEAR THAT CHANCELLOR
ANGELA MERKEL MIGHT STILL GIVE
THE NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS.

Paikin adds,
WELL, MICHAELA, PICK UP THE STORY,
IF YOU WOULD, THERE?
BECAUSE I PRESUME PEOPLE THOUGHT
THAT GOVERNMENT WOULD BE
ESTABLISHED BEFORE THAT, BUT HOW
POSSIBLE DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT
IN FACT, MERKEL WILL BE AROUND
FOR SEVERAL MORE MONTHS TO COME?

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? Swan Song”

Michaela replies,
WELL, NOBODY THIS SIDE OF THE
ATLANTIC THOUGHT THAT.
LAST TIME IT TOOK HALF A YEAR
WITH ONE FAILED ATTEMPT
INCLUDED.
THESE ARE COMPLEX NEGOTIATIONS.
ESSENTIALLY WHAT WE'RE SEEING
RIGHT NOW IS THE TAIL WAGGING
THE DOG IN GERMAN POLITICS
BECAUSE IT'S THE TWO SMALL
PARTIES WHO WILL DEFINITELY BE
IN GOVERNMENT, BECAUSE THEY ARE
DEFINITELY NEEDED AS COALITION
PARTNERS.
AND THE BIG QUESTION IS WHO WILL
LEAD IT?
WILL IT BE ANGELA MERKEL'S
CONSERVATIVE UNION OR WILL IT BE
THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS LED BY
OLAF SCHOLZ, THE CURRENT VICE
CHANCELLOR.
THERE YOU HAVE THE ELEMENT OF
CONTINUITY AND STABILITY THAT
GERMANS LIKE.
MOST GERMANS WOULD LIKE TO SEE
THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS AT THE HELM
OF THIS BECAUSE THEY INTERPRET
THAT AS THAT VERY STABILITY, AND
I'M NOT SURE WHETHER IT WILL BE
BEFORE CHRISTMAS, BUT IT
CERTAINLY WON'T BE BEFORE
NOVEMBER.
BUT IF THERE'S ONE THING WE
LEARNT DURING THE LAST COALITION
TALKS IS THAT GERMANY HAS VERY
STRONG INSTITUTIONS.
THIS IS THE PRICE OF OUR
ELECTION SYSTEM, WHICH IS ALL
ABOUT PROPORTIONALITY.
IT DOESN'T PRODUCE ALL-OUT
LOSERS. IT TRIES TO BE AS
INCLUSIVE AS POSSIBLE.
AND GERMANS CERTAINLY HAVE THE
PATIENCE AND THEY WATCHED THEIR
COUNTRY TAKE OVER QUITE NICELY
EVEN WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT IN
PLACE.
BUT ONE THING NEEDS TO BE THERE
FOR SURE AND THAT'S THE POLICY
PRIORITIES FOR THE G-7
PRESIDENCY THAT GERMANY WILL
TAKE ON AT THE BEGINNING OF NEXT
YEAR AND THERE ARE OF COURSE
FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
COMING UP.
AND HAVING FRANCE CONTESTING
ELECTIONS AND GERMANY NOT QUITE
IN GOVERNMENT YET, THAT WOULD
WEAKEN EUROPE AND THAT'S WHAT
EVERYBODY KNOWS AND THAT'S WHAT
THEY'RE WORKING UP AGAINST.

Paikin says,
IN WHICH CASE, PETRA, LET ME FOLLOW
UP WITH YOU ON THAT.
WHOEVER BECOMES THE NEXT GERMAN
CHANCELLOR AND SUCCEEDS ANGELA
MERKEL AND WHENEVER THAT
HAPPENS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS
THE MOST DAUNTING MISSION OR
RESPONSIBILITY THAT THAT PERSON
WILL HAVE?

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? Filling Her Shoes”

Petra replies,
WELL, AS WE HAVE HEARD, EUROPE
WILL REMAIN A DAUNTING CHALLENGE.
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH FRANCE,
THE OUTCOME OF THOSE ELECTIONS,
WILL ALSO BE IMPORTANT. AND
CLIMATE CHANGE. WE'VE HEARD THIS
OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
I THINK THE BIGGEST ISSUE FOR ME
AS AN HISTORIAN WHO IS SOMETIMES
MORE INTERESTED IN THE LONG-TERM
PERSPECTIVE IS THAT WE HAVE THIS
GENERATIONAL DIVIDE.
WE HAVE A GENERATION FOR WHOM
CLIMATE CHANGE IS REALLY THE
MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE, BUT
EQUALLY WE HAVE AN AGING
POPULATION IN GERMANY. SO THAT
ACTUALLY THOSE OVER FIFTY
WILL BE THE ONES WHO WILL OFTEN
DECIDE WHO RUNS GERMANY.
AND I THINK THAT REALLY WILL
BECOME INCREASINGLY A CHALLENGE.
SO DOMESTIC POLITICS ASIDE, IT'S
EASY TO FORGET ABOUT THOSE WHEN
YOU LOOK FROM THE OUTSIDE.
BUT THAT'S ALSO WHAT REALLY WILL
DRIVE AND WILL CREATE A LOT OF
CHALLENGES FOR ANY NEW
GOVERNMENT IN GERMANY.

Paikin replies, UNDERSTOOD.

(Speaking German)

Paikin continues,
MICHAELA KUEFNER FROM DEUTSCHE
WELLE AND PETRA DOLATA FROM THE
UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY, THANK YOU
VERY MUCH.

Text reads, “What is Germany without Merkel? Produced by: Harrison Lowman @harrisonlowman”

Watch: What is Germany Without Merkel?