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10 styczeń 2017

Facts from Frankfurt – Angela Merkel: the last woman standing

Angela Merkel stands by her beliefs and doesn’t give up. Only recently has she announced her candidacy for next year’s elections. Admirable as it is, the fact that she manages to make it feel as if the ‘refugee crisis’ was a matter of the good and the evil is remarkable. As if her ideology was failing, simply because the good always needs to give place to evil in order to rise again agog with horror. Her constant demand, that the refugees can’t be left to drown in the sea makes it look as if she was surrounded by people demanding cruel, egoistic policies, so that they could live their lives away buying cars, going to the opera, spending money on charity and feeling safe, a luxury known to few, by the way. To put it shortly: she makes it a moral question and Germans, as frustrated as they are, may actually swallow it.

The criticism on Angela Merkel comes from every angle and it usually touches the subject of how she handled the refugee crisis. It comes from those, whose land has been trodden by the masses of newcomers as well as from those, who haven’t seen a single dark-skinned face in their lives. The Austrian PM criticizes how she took the lead, disrespectful towards the equality of European countries. “When you have such a strong leadership role within the EU, you should exercise it more sensibly“[1], says Sebastian Kurz, Austrian PM. Although one would wonder, why should she be more careful in undertaking actions in a critical situation rather than realize that it’s a natural way of governing in danger for most democratic countries. Most European countries rarely use the term ‘state of emergency’; recently it was Turkey, who imposed a state of emergency due to the unsuccessful coup d’etat. But the mere idea, that a government can put itself on a higher position than any other power within the state (including the power of the people) and govern the country in a despotic, rather than democratic manner, seems somewhat forgotten, shameful. Such a mechanism is foreseen to avoid what’s typical for all the democracies around the world: the long chain of decision-making and slow imposition of law. European Union has developed no such mechanism, quite understandably, since it would carve on the stone exactly what happened during the refugee crisis of 2016: some countries’ supremacy over the others and their superior position within the European Union. Sebastian Kurz, whose country too often, unwillingly, falls into cliché of being Germany’s little sister, disapproves of it, demanding that Austria gets as much of a cake, as Germany does. Such behavior can be widely seen across Europe: the refugee crisis has not only shown us, that we are not a bubble separated from the rest of the world, but also that in fact, the world order hasn’t changed a bit. There are more and less important states, namely those who dictate the laws and those who follow them. But after years of peace, during which European Union fed us all with the ideas of equality and prepared a highly complicated system of electing the deputies to the European Parliament to mirror the weight of each member state, we faced the reality of the European Council being the main decision making organ.

It sounds so outrageous, that even Germans quail under the attack and shamefully admit, that they do not have the right to think they are any better than the French, British, Austrians of Poles. They themselves are angry with Angela Merkel for letting the refugees in. But so would be the Austrians, if she left the newcomers spread themselves across beautiful landscapes of Austria. Peter Tauber from CDU defends Merkel on that account: “(…) Angela Merkel has not only responsibility for Germany, but for the rest of the Europe too. (…) Sebastian Kurz can lightly demand things. But what would have he said, if we really have closed out border and left Austria on its own?”[2]. Tauber points out, that whether we like it or not, Merkel had done what she had to do in order to prevent the escalation of crisis on the Balkans.

Meanwhile CDU/CSU coalition seems to be gaining on support: Emnid-Erhebung published a survey in „Bild am Sonntag“ which shows that they have a chance not to lose too much in the next year’s elections[3] (nowadays not loosing feels like winning sometimes). Angela Merkel prepares herself for the next difficult year, during which she will have to defend her policy and convince Germans that integration is possible. Her party may have still some meaningful support, but such cases such as the recent rape and murder case from Freiburg[4] can easily shatter the good image. Moreover, if the Islamic State manages to ‘blow up anything big in Berlin’, it might win the election for AfD, Germany’s right- wing, anti- Islamic party.

Therefore Angela Merkel, who got an almost unanimous support from CDU on the CDU Party Conference Day in Essen, gave a speech, during which she spoke about integration. Not only had she emphasized that “We show are faces over here. That’s why the full veil is not appropriate, it should be forbidden”[5], but also stressed, that the amount of hatred directed at refugees is unacceptable. “(…) sometimes the impression that some who have been living here for a long time in Germany urgently need an integration course”[6], she warned.

And who knows, maybe Germans will see the example of their little sister Austria, who recently surprised the world by not following the trend of electing populists, and next year they will see in Angela Merkel the leader they need.

Dorota Pawłowska

[1] Sebastian Kurz kritisiert Merkel als „moralisch überlegen“, https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article159952192/Sebastian-Kurz-kritisiert-Merkel-als-moralisch-ueberlegen.html, 4.12.2016.

[2] Ibidem.

[3] Union erzielt höchste Zustimmung seit Januar, http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/umfrage-union-erzielt-hoechste-zustimmung-seit-januar-14558087.html, 4.12.2016.

[4] C. Ruf, Mord an Studentin in Freiburg. Risse im Idyll, http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/mord-an-studentin-in-freiburg-risse-im-idyll-a-1124344.html, 6.12.2016.

[5] Szenenapplaus für Merkels Vollverschleierungsverbot, https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article160028294/Szenenapplaus-fuer-Merkels-Vollverschleierungsverbot.html, 6.12.2016.

[6] „Auch Deutsche haben einen Integrationskurs dringend nötig“,https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article160016612/Auch-Deutsche-haben-einen-Integrationskurs-dringend-noetig.html, 6.12.2016.