Angela Merkel’s New Momentum
Since German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she will not seek another term and will step down as her party's leader at the end of this year, political obituaries have been rolling in. But far from bowing out quietly, Merkel will use her remaining time in office to cement her legacy as a defender of the European project.
MADRID – Upon Albert Einstein’s death in 1955, the New York Times published a letter to the editor with a marvelous anecdote. Shortly after the atomic bombs had fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Einstein was asked, “Why is it that when the mind of man has stretched so far as to discover the structure of the atom we have been unable to devise the political means to keep the atom from destroying us?” His answer was timeless: “That is simple, my friend. It is because politics is more difficult than physics.”
As a former student of physics in East Germany, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to confirm the truth of Einstein’s quip firsthand when she went into politics. I humbly believe that I can attest to the same, as my own life has followed a somewhat similar path. Just as I had done in Spain a few years before, Merkel reacted to the collapse of the dictatorship she lived in by leaving physics to embrace public service. Eventually, she got caught up in the whirlwind of European politics.
In her various public roles, and throughout 13 years as chancellor, Merkel has always maintained a methodical and reflective style that suits her scientific background. But world politics seems to be diverging from that style, and increasing agitation in Germany has taken a toll on her standing.