Visitors watch German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tobias Schwarz/Getty Images

Long Reads

Germany’s Crisis of Complacency

Over the past decade, Germany has gone from being the “sick man of Europe” to a bastion of stability. But with German Chancellor Angela Merkel poised to gain a fourth term, it is worth asking if too much stability can be a bad thing.

BERLIN – What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, Germany was cast as “the sick man of Europe,” owing to its apparent unwillingness to reform. The country suffered from high unemployment, declining competitiveness, a failing education system, an aging and shrinking population, and public debt that exceeded the limits set by the European Union’s Stability and Growth Pact.

But that was then. Today, Germany is regarded as a bastion of political stability and an island of widely shared prosperity in Europe and the world. This Sunday, Germans will elect a new government, and will most likely give Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term. She will then be on track to surpass her mentor, the late Helmut Kohl, as Germany’s second-longest-serving chancellor, after Otto von Bismarck. Germans can thus expect continued political stability in Berlin, and in most of their country’s 16 Länder (federal states).

Political stability follows economic success. Germany’s exports and imports are booming, wages are rising, unions are content and cooperative, and the economy is near full employment. The 2008 global financial crisis is long forgotten. And an influx of almost a million migrants and refugees in recent years has been accommodated, while public budgets remain in the black.

To continue reading, please subscribe to On Point.

To access On Point or our archived content, log in or register now now and read two On Point articles for free and 2 archived contents. For unlimited access to the unrivaled analysis of On Point and archived contents, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in;
  1. Taming the Tech Monster

    The promise that digital technologies would “democratize” information and bypass traditional power structures has been devoured by a new generation of corporate monopolists. Putting the Internet back in the hands of citizens will require nothing less than a new vision of the digital age.

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.