Skip to comments.Merkel's 'Small Steps' Bring Giant Leap In Popularity
Posted on 01/21/2006 6:25:58 PM PST by blam
Merkel's 'small steps' bring giant leap in popularity
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Angela Merkel, Germany's Chancellor, has confounded her critics by emerging as the country's most popular leader for more than a decade - only two months after being elected.
Dismissed only six months ago as a humourless and dowdy East German, Mrs Merkel is riding a wave of unprecedented public approval that last week placed her at the top of Germany's key opinion poll rating for politicians.
Angela Merkel's image has changed for good
The monthly survey conducted by the ZDF television channel found voters rated the 52-year-old conservative Chancellor as Germany's most likeable politician, and the politician who has achieved most since the change of government in November. The last chancellor to enjoy such popularity was Helmut Kohl, who won huge public approval for his role in securing Germany's reunification 16 years ago. Mrs Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, was consistently beaten in the popularity stakes by his Green foreign minister, Joschka Fischer.
While many German political observers have been taken aback by the Chancellor's sudden popularity, her achievement has come as no surprise to those who have followed her progress intimately. "Mrs Merkel has always been underestimated," her biographer Gerd Langguth told the Sunday Telegraph. "She has an uncompromising will to succeed. She always seems to know what to do next and then get on with it."
Mr Kohl, whom Mrs Merkel ousted as conservative leader at the height of a party slush fund scandal five years ago, conceded last week: "Merkel has proved she is up to the challenges that face her. Unlike Schröder she is not a public relations product. She has opinions."
Mrs Merkel owes much of her success to a series of foreign policy scoops, her unassuming leadership style and her pragmatic approach to domestic issues. Her new-found ability to smile in public, combined with a styled haircut and markedly more chic clothes, have banished charges that she was Germany's "ugly duckling".
Her diplomacy during last month's difficult negotiations in Brussels over European Union budget contributions was credited in Germany with having saved the meeting from collapse.
Mrs Merkel won more praise for opening a new chapter in German-American relations, ending the disastrous impasse resulting from Mr Schröder's vehement opposition to the American invasion of Iraq.
During her first meeting with President George W Bush she gave every appearance of pleasure at being in his company and pledged German support for America's war on terror, while winning approval at home for her prior criticism of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Last week Mrs Merkel, who speaks Russian, set her own mark on Berlin's complex relations with Moscow during a visit to the Kremlin. Breaking with the cosy camaraderie that was the hallmark of Mr Schröder's friendship with President Vladimir Putin, Mrs Merkel raised the subject of Russian human rights abuses. She discussed Moscow's controversial war in Chechnya with Mr Putin and became the first German leader to meet Russian citizens' rights activists and political opposition groups.
Mrs Merkel also owes her success to a leadership style that breaks with the media-targeted approach adopted by her predecessor. Unlike Mr Schröder, Mrs Merkel has not staked her political future on halving German unemployment. Nor has she made any unrealistic promises.
She has summed up her government's programme as "the politics of taking many small steps".
Critics say Mrs Merkel's honeymoon may be short-lived. Her grand coalition government of conservatives and Social Democrats is considered potentially unworkable because the two parties are natural political enemies.
Wow, that was some kind of makeover. Better than Hillary's, even.
In the first pic she looks like a hamster storing up food.
Ms Merkel has her work cut out for her--because I imagine most German citizens are like my friend.
Merkel can kiss my ass. First the release of the terrorist murderer of that Navy airman, after Gonzales asked her to turn him over to us. Now he's back in Lebanon or Syria planning new attacks. Then her stupid comments calling on us to close Gitmo. As Shania once said "that don't impress me much".
But she has a new hairstyle !!!
and she smiles now.
The "Gitmo" comment was only a comment...she never pushed it. She looked in the German press as if she was attempting to halt it, but the truth is...its not anywhere in her top 100 things to do. Gaining support of the German is...and resolving the bad US-German relationship is. I'm suspecting of the release of the murderer...that some other deal is in the works that is not yet clear. I agree...the guy should have been sitting there in prison until death...but the US allowed Germany to hold the guy and we never should have agreed to that in the first place. Our position should have been hand him over, or turn him loose for us to find. Having some 3rd party keep Bubba in prison is never a good idea.
I don't think Gitmo is a good thing but it's maybe the best possibilty to protect the western civilisations. After the Iran thing is over there's no need for it anymore.
Well, what did you expect? She was raised in Communist East Germany! :)