Day By Day

Friday, November 25, 2005

Angie and Otto?

Bill Rice over at Dawn's Early Light writes about Angela Merkel, newly installed as Germany's first female Chancellor. He wonders if she has the potential to be another Bismarck. Read his intriguing analysis here.

Perhaps -- she's a tough lady and Europe's current situation creates numerous opportunities for an ambitious national leader to exert influence throughout the continent. Rice's analysis focuses on strategic considerations and in that regard there are definitely interesting possibilities. But, note that Bismark was also the father of the modern welfare state, instituting a broad social safety net in Germany that became the model for all others, and he also launched a kulturkampf to impose cultural uniformity throughout the German realms. Merkel, a social conservative, will seek, with little success I fear, to roll back some of the welfare policies that trace their origins to Bismarck. On the culture front, Germans are angry and feel threatened by immigrants and cultural minorities. Will they want to emulate Bismarck's example?

If Merkel turns out to be as formidable figure as Rice thinks she will be, she might emerge as the anti-Bismarck.

And note that Angie has lots of problems Bismarck never faced. No government figure in Bismark's time ever pondered (in public at least) the question, "how do you hug a chancellor?"

It's still honeymoon time, and things will certainly change, but for now the German press has given Angie superlative reviews on her first official swing aroung the continent. Read about it here.

No comments: