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Left Wing, Right Wing: Thoughts from the Politics Editor

Angela Merkel stepping down as Chancellor prompts the question, what will her legacy be?

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Image Credit: Arno Mikkor

Angela Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany for most of my life, and her legacy seems undetermined insofar as Merkel herself is letting his-tory remember her. Often, leaders try to define their own legacy: they will write their own version of events, or try to pick their successor and in extreme cases, etch themselves into national memory.

Merkel has not done that yet. There was no leaving party at the G7 meeting, her last major outing on the world stage; at her final annual summer press conference in July she said that ‘it was a pleasure,’ but nothing more and she played a minimal role in the campaign to decide her successor.

Current indicators suggest that she will be remembered as a whole, and I think that’s how she wants it. Merkel cherishes facts and is known for her methodical and pragmatic approach. Furthermore, she helped to create a place which remembers its whole history.

When I visited Berlin, I was amazed by the fact that it didn’t shy away from remembering the horrific events of its past. There were memorials for those who were killed, discriminated against and victimised, and monuments to symbolise what Germany is trying to achieve. There was no embarrassment about the fact that the country was in a constant state of repair.

Merkel is a part of this story — a woman who grew up on the Eastern side of the wall, learning communism from the day she was born. Then in post-Cold war Germany, entering politics to become a leader who guided the West through its crises. She will be remembered for what she did, for each decision she took, every save and every mistake, and in my view, that is the best possible way

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