Feature

Germany: Why Merkel aims to be boring

The euro is in crisis and the Middle East is blowing up, yet Germany’s election season could not be more boring.

Matthias Knecht
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland)

The euro is in crisis and the Middle East is blowing up, yet Germany’s election season could not be more boring, said Matthias Knecht. As they approach national elections later this month, the parties ought to be loudly sparring over the issues. But Chancellor Angela Merkel, secure in her comfortable lead, has pursued a content-free campaign. Her TV spot is “an agonizing 93 seconds” of the chancellor looking thoughtful and saying things like “Germany is doing well today.” Even her staunchest supporters admit that “it almost puts you to sleep”—and that’s the intention, of course. After the turbulence of reunification and the global financial crisis, Germans love the predictable boringness of their capable, decidedly unflashy leader. The words voters choose to describe her say it all: “pragmatic, solid, reasonable, realistic.” She’s made herself into “the mother of the nation,” someone who can make Germans “feel safe.” And frankly, they have no reason to switch leaders. Polls show that most Germans are happy in their jobs and satisfied with the direction the country is going. The only thing up for grabs is which party will join Merkel’s Christian Democrats in coalition to form the next government. And that’s a real question, since the lackluster campaign season has increased the chance that “many opposition voters will simply stay home.”

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