20 years of Merkel the helm of the CDU

A file photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), arrives for the CDU board meeting in Berlin, Germany, 25 September 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

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Exactly two decades ago, Angela Merkel became the first woman to lead a German political party. Her tenure as party leader and chancellor has seen her weather one crisis after another while prevailing electorally.

DW gives an in-depth analysis of these last 20 years of Angels Merkel’s leadership of the German Christian Democratic Party (CDU).

Though she gave up command of the party in 2018, when Annegret Kramp Karrenbauer was voted in as the new CDU leader, her successor’s short-lived tenure and resignation, coupled with a postponed party meeting to pick a new leader, means that Merkel is still — at least symbolically — at the helm of the conservative party.

Her last year as Chancellor comes as the country tackles the coronavirus health emergency that has triggered lockdowns across the globe, with serious ramifications for domestic and international economies, posing a major test for seasoned and new leaders alike.

DW states that over time, the party she has led for two decades has weakened electorally and Merkel’s long tenure has overseen ever-increasing voter fragmentation, with non-traditional parties like the Greens rising and stalwarts like CDU and center-left SPD falling.

But Merkel herself has managed to stay afloat and ahead of the competition. Though wounded, she remains the most popular politician in the country to this day.

Merkel had pledged that her current chancellorship would be her last. Now, she faces the coronavirus pandemic, which she has referred to as the greatest challenge the country has faced since WWII.

As she crosses the 20-year mark, this could be her biggest test yet. But in this final and critical crisis, Germans are already giving her leadership a boost.  Some 80% of voters were pleased with Merkel’s management of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a poll by broadcaster ZDF’s Forschungsgruppe Wahlen.

Even her languishing Grand Coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD, which previously had a 28% approval rating, has risen to 37% in the polls.

Now more than ever, Germans seem to be looking to Merkel’s longevity and experience handling crises.

Read more via DW

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