Constant Germany: Lessons of Steadiness in an Uncertain World

By Laurent Ladouce

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped down on December 8th after 16 years of political leadership. This unassuming person won international recognition as a model of leadership and was considered the most influential woman of the world for the past ten years.

The New York Times recently wrote of her legacy: “It is the end of an era for Germany and for Europe. For over a decade, Ms. Merkel was not just chancellor of Germany but effectively the leader of Europe.”

Rev. Sun Myung Moon often said leadership entails the ability to guide as a teacher, to embrace and unite as a parent, and to create projects as a master. Dr. Merkel, a theoretical quantum chemist from the former East Germany, rarely spoke like a scientist; her manners and rhetoric were simple, even dull. She never proposed any revolutionary project.

She was, however, the unbeatable team leader and referee who could get people to work together in a spirit of trust. She was perceived as the mother of the nation, affectionately called Mutti (mother).

Some saw her as an icon of female leadership. But more to the point, Merkel has been reassuring for Germans. Not just the exceptional woman, many Germans saw in her the average German they wanted to be, albeit in a leadership role. They felt secure with her. She was seen by large sectors of the German population as an embodiment of a cardinal virtue in German political culture: constancy.

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Konstanz is a peaceful German university city on the Bodensee or Lake Constance. It is situated in the very heart of the German-speaking world, where Germany, Austria and Alemannic Switzerland meet.

Though this central spot of the German-speaking world is called Konstanz is a coincidence of geography, it’s also a good symbol. “Constancy is the complement of all other human virtues,” said the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72). Most German political leaders would agree. Modern Germany offers a model of political constancy which grew even stronger after the challenge of reunification. After Merkel is gone, this constancy will likely remain.

This essay focuses on Germany’s healthy institutions rather than on a remarkable person. Chancellor Merkel indeed has much merit. But German governance often allows for very capable leaders like Dr. Merkel to be elected and to remain. This is a lesson for us all.

The constancy which has eroded in other democracies seems unbreakable in Germany. Steadiness, resiliency, and loyalty to yourself and your commitments are challenging in a world of permanent crisis, perpetual change and growing uncertainty. Many believe that, in order to adapt to an ever-changing world, you need to be adventurous, risk-taking, and ready to change overnight.

But Germany offers an example of governance where in-depth reforms are possible within the system, without changing the goals, vision and methodology. British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) warned that “the secret of success is constancy of purpose.” German political leaders, in general, still believe this credo. So does the German population and so did Merkel.

Satisfaction with democracy ranks high in Germany

Confidence in representative democracy and the rule of law is vanishing almost everywhere, but remains strong in Germany.

According to a 2019 survey across Europe, satisfaction with democracy is mixed. In Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, and Germany, roughly two-thirds or more are satisfied with the state of democracy in their country (72%, 68%, 66%, and 65%, respectively). By contrast, in Greece, the UK, Italy, Spain, and France, majorities are dissatisfied with how democracy is functioning. By a more than two-to-one margin, Greeks, Britons, Italians, and Spaniards are also more dissatisfied with democracy in their countries than satisfied.

The German percentage (65%) was exactly the same ten years ago. A good test of this confidence was the COVID-19 crisis. A survey published in October 2020 showed that 66% of the German population offered total support for their government’s response to the pandemic (the average in the EU is 51%, but only 36% in France). The German population is also confident (about the same percentage) in European institutions, and believes that EU membership is good for them. Another survey showed that, among former communist countries, the highest percentages of satisfaction with a multiparty system and free market economy were by far observed in Poland and the former East Germany. Studies regularly show that Germany is far more confident than France, Italy and Spain about a better economic future.

Indeed, extremist tendencies and ideological confusion are also found in Germany. You can count on Germans to be as eccentric, crazy, adventurous, risk-taking, defiant, and dissenting as other Western countries. The German boat sails on a rough sea of uncertainties. Its passengers are not all straight, but the structure of the boat and the navigation seem to be different.

Politically, Germany teaches that democracy with a strong parliament can still work if there is a clear will for that and a constant effort by citizens and political parties. Economically, Germany has a robust doctrine, widely accepted by the population. It is called Soziale Marktwirtschaft, often translated as “social market economy” (SOME), but also called Rhine capitalism. German politics and economics are both rooted in Irenicism, the peaceful thought of Leibniz.

“Angela Merkel: Navigating a World in Crisis,” a Deutsche Welle documentary from September.

Germany, land of full democracy

According to the Democracy Index (compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit), Norway is the most fully democratic nation in the world, with an index value of 9.87, followed by Iceland and Sweden. Germany is 13th, with an index of 8.68. Among the nations of the G7, only Canada has a better ranking (seventh, 9.28), whereas the UK is 14th, France 20th, Japan 24th, the U.S. 25th, and Italy 35th.

Full democracy entails a low level of corruption. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, published annually by Transparency International, Germany ranked ninth in 2020, followed by the UK and Canada (11), Japan (19), France (23), the USA (25), and Italy (52). These high rankings may explain much of German political constancy. This country shows its capacity to follow the rule of law, with a high level of citizen’s participation, transparency and respect of institutions.

Why is it remarkable? Among the G7, Germany is probably the country which had the most tragic destiny in the 20th century. The G7 nations have been leading the Free World since 1975. Thirty years after the end of World War II, the seven strongest economic powers decided to create a new alliance, bringing together the allies of World War II with a democratic foundation (USA, UK, France, Canada) and the former axis powers (Japan, Germany and Italy). Among these seven nations, Canada is by far the least wounded. Canada has been less affected by the scourge of war than the others, always keeping a strong culture of peace.

The six other nations have all known national tragedy and experienced a painful process of atoning for various forms of evil. Among the six, Germany had the most tormented fate in the 20th century. It was also the nation which caused immense suffering to the world, second only to the Soviet Union. This brilliant nation of philosophers, scientists, artists, and theologians entered the 20th century conducting a war which left it completely devastated. Germany under Adolf Hitler caused the Second World War. The country was then punished for this crime by 40 years of division between East and West. Germany experienced various political nightmares for almost 72 years (1918-90).

However, much as Gen. Douglas MacArthur was magnanimous with defeated Japan upon its surrender in 1945, and fathered its postwar constitution and institutions, the allied nations decided to give a chance to West Germany and were not disappointed. This does not dispel all the resentment, but many in Europe now admire and respect Germany, even if some sectors of public opinion in Southern Europe may feel a form of condescension from German leaders.

Immediately after World War II, West Germany adopted a federal system and parliamentary form of government. The small city of Bonn became the capital of this new nation, in preference to larger cities. This effort toward decentralization and a clear separation of powers did not prevent Germany from having strong chancellors (Bundeskanzler). The chancellor serves as prime minister and is strictly controlled by the federal parliament (the Bundestag). Yet almost every chancellor in Germany was able to implement fundamental reforms. Contemporary Germany gives a central place to the chancellor. In a nation that had been ruled by a dictator, it was a real challenge to have a leader who is both under control and yet strong.

Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor, talked about a Kanzlerdemokratie (democracy of the chancellor). Whereas the federal president only has symbolic powers, the chancellor is the architect of national politics. Germany had a succession of remarkable chancellors from the two main political parties: the CDU (Christian Democrats, center right) and the SPD (center left). Many would envy such a mixture of stability and strong leadership. Angela Merkel became the first Bundeskanzlerin in 2005. During her 16 years as head of Germany, the most influential woman in the world every year for the past 10 years illustrated that “constant Germany” is not a concept, but quite real.

In the 71 years since 1949, the conservative CDU party has led the country for 51 years, whereas the SPD was in power for only 20 years and three mandates (Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt from 1969-81 and Gerhard Schröder from 1997-2005). Other political parties are important, both at the federal level and in the regions. Among them, the Greens and Free Democratic Party have often played a pivotal role in coalitions.

The strongest industry in the West

What makes the German economy so vibrant? Whereas production in the six other G7 nations is dramatically declining, German industrial power is as triumphant as ever.

In 2016, Germany recorded the highest trade surplus in the world, $310 billion, and was the biggest capital exporter globally. Moreover, Germany is one of the world’s largest exporters with nearly two trillion dollars of goods and services exported in 2019. The main German exports are vehicles, machinery, chemical goods, electronics, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and transportation equipment. Germany is the largest manufacturing economy in Europe.

More than the quantity of goods exported, their quality is what really matters. Germans aim at the good product, which is well-conceived, efficient, robust, lasting, and matches the needs of the customer. Generally, customers prefer to buy German because of high performance, and an image of seriousness and thrift.

Moreover, German automotive companies enjoy a strong position in the premium segment, with a combined world market share of about 90%. Companies like Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz), BMW and Porsche represent the constant quest of the ideal car, that is strong, comfortable and practical, but also amazing with a German touch of design, finish, beauty, and magic. A German luxury car is immediately identifiable; it conveys a sense of excellence and is also the encapsulation of a certain timeless spirit. In large sectors of German industry, there is still the belief that if you produce something fabulous that cannot be made elsewhere, it becomes the master product in this area.

Production of the EQS electric vehicle at the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant in Germany. 

The famous brands are not all, however. Small- to medium-sized manufacturing firms, (Mittelstand companies) which specialize in technologically advanced niche products and are often family-owned, form a major part of the German economy.

A German product is not always the best, yet customers still buy it. Why? Another secret of Germany is the art of selling well. The Kundendienst (after-sales service) is a German tradition. Commerce was in the German blood long before the Industrial Revolution. Germany remains the world’s top location for trade fairs. Around two-thirds of the world’s major trade fairs take place in Germany. The largest annual international trade fairs are held in Hanover, Frankfurt, Cologne, Leipzig, and Düsseldorf. Visitors to these fairs immediately feel the flavor of German urban life, made for commerce. Major cities of Germany all compete for economic diplomacy, with no equivalent in Europe.

The German model

The secret of German economic power remains its human capital. What makes German industry so strong is the constant balance between a powerful employers’ association and workers’ unions. Whereas unions are declining in the USA and UK or see their role as merely confrontational (France, Italy), unions in Germany are partners to produce much, to produce well and to sell well. Business should be profitable for everyone. A majority thinks that economy should be an economy of human beings, by human beings and for human beings.

The German model also seeks to harmonize relations between regulatory bodies and affected parties, as well as between individual companies to prevent ruinous competition within the scope of applicable antitrust law. The search for a common denominator is constant in business relationships.

The German model emphasizes vocational education. In the German education system, the heart, head, and hand should always work together (herz, kopf und hand has been a credo in German education for decades). Even though Germany has excellent universities, it also provides many opportunities to learn highly-skilled trades. The same model exists in Switzerland and Japan. In Germany, there is a strong emphasis on apprenticeships for skilled positions, taught by expert worker-instructors.

German Irenicism

Finally, German constancy traces back to a thought system of rationalist German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716). While Europe was still torn by the bloody battles between Protestants and Catholics, Leibniz advocated Irenicism (from the Greek irene, for peace) to bring Christians together. He said that reason would help the believers agree on some fundamental truths instead of always stressing differences.

In a sense, Germany had no choice but to favor Irenicism. We often see Germany as the country of dialectical thinking (Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx), but a more profound tradition of Germany is Irenicism, the search for the third way – a matter of survival when you live at the center of Europe in a federal system.

Economically, Irenicism has influenced the Freiburg school of economic thought and its concept of Ordoliberalism. Ordo means that liberalism is constitutional, and follows guiding principles. In other words, the free market economy is both spontaneous and regulated, free and oriented to a certain goal. We are not in a wild environment of mere laissez-faire, but there is a conscious effort to coordinate the action of the players.

The social and humanistic concern of this doctrine has a component coming from the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. It was also influenced by secular socialism, but a form of socialism that has clearly repudiated Marxist ideology. Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966) had an anthropo-sociological approach of an economic humanism leading to a Civitas Humana (human city). Röpke stood for a social policy in which human rights are given the highest importance. He believed individualism must be balanced by a well-thought-out principle of sociality and humanity.

Alfred Müller-Armack (1901-78) pursued ideas of social humanism and what is termed “social irenics,” a notion of working toward peace, moderation and conciliation to overcome existing differences in society. His idea of social market economy is seen as a holistic concept pursuing a complete humanistic societal order and a synthesis of seemingly conflicting objectives: economic freedom and social security.

Often labeled Der Dritte Weg (“The Third Way”), this thought inspired Otto von Bismarck (1815-98). Under his leadership, Germany not only became a major industrial power but also pioneered the welfare state, especially through its system of social security and insurance. Bismarck wrote: “The real grievance of the worker is the insecurity of his existence; he is not sure that he will always have work, he is not sure that he will always be healthy, and he foresees that he will one day be old and unfit to work.”

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Now, exit the Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel. She will remain influential for a long time to come. Over 16 years, she was a great presence in world summits. In some dramatic situations, she was the human face of a continent still tormented. Under her leadership, people around the world could see that a very powerful country was led by a woman with simple manners, without scandal, and, last but not least, with the heart of a mother.♦

Laurent Ladouce is a French Unificationist who was awarded an honorary doctorate by Unification Theological Seminary in 2017. A prolific author of Unificationist publications, he also published the book, Le Projet Pakxe: une contribution du Laos à l’unité de l’Asie du Sud‐Est et à la Paix Mondiale, describing the rising role of city diplomacy and proposing a plan to make Pakxe, Laos, an international city of peace. He also regularly conducts tribal messiah activity in West Africa.

Graphic at top: A depiction of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

15 thoughts on “Constant Germany: Lessons of Steadiness in an Uncertain World

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  1. Thank you for this informative and interesting article. Gen. George C. Marshall, as Secretary of State, was responsible for executing the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, including (West) Germany after WW II.

    I am curious to learn more about the apprentice system that Germany uses to develop workers for their powerful manufacturing base. I think the U.S. could benefit from something like this.

    1. Thank you, Rob. I am grateful that you have opened the discussion. You are right to insist on the role of George Marshall in the rebuilding of Germany. General MacArthur played a very positive role in creating a lasting relationship between the USA and Japan. Likewise, thanks to the American influence, the Allied Forces in West Germany could help the country recover.

      Later, a virtuous cooperation led to the birth of the European market. Paul Henri Spaak from Belgium, Robert Schuman (Luxemburg, France), Charles de Gaulle (France), Alcid de Gasperi (Italy) and Konrad Adenauer (Germany) decided to unite. This was the birth of a modern utopia, which is now the European Union. These five people were all “Lotharigians”, they were all born in the region that existed between Western Franks (France) and Eastern Franks (Germany) after the division of Charlemagne’s empire. We may say that the Lotharingian spirit has a very good influence on Europe. Lotharingia today streches from Amsterdam to Milan, and includes major cities like Brussels, Strasburg, the Ruhr cities (Essen, Düsseldork), Cologne, Basel, Geneva, Milan. Modern Germany is strongly influenced by the culture of their region.

      Today, Germany is a strong partner of the United States and its loyalty to Atlantic institutions is deep. At the same time, Germany can probably talk more easily with Russia than most Western powers. As far as I know, Chancellor Helmut Kohl was extremely clever with Mikhail Gorbachev. Mrs. Merkel never stopped talking with Vladimir Putin.

      Regarding apprenticenship in Germany (and Switzerland), it is truly a good system. A good introduction to this topic is provided by Wikipedia here.

  2. Laurent,

    Thank you for your article on a different social system than we have discussed. Constancy is a term that indicates stability and the importance of tradition. In terms of social institutions, I prefer the term resilience because of environmental changes like inflows of refugees or other demographic changes, or changes due to advancement in technology or relations with other states. During Angela Merkel’s period of leadership, there have been several such challenges and Germany continues to remain resilient. The broad survey of German institutions that you gave raises many questions as one looks for the best form of government. Here are a several observations:

    1. If one looks at the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, one finds two “houses” involved in legislation that represents “elites” and “masses.” It does not suffer from the institutional failure we see in the United States where the Senate is no longer composed of elites. The Bundesrat is made up of mayors and other government leaders, which in some ways parallels the original formulation of the Senate. Thus the Bundesrat, Bundestag, and the Chancellor provide a better system of checks and balances than we have in the U.S., and arguably the U.K. also.

    2. Merkel’s long term of 16 years could possibly be an argument against term limits, especially if there are good institutions of governance. Notably, the corruption index in Germany is much lower than in the U.S. This would indicate that institutions that resist corruption are most important, while term limits just limit the time a politician has to engage in a corrupt process. Term limits do not foster constancy, but a certain amount of turmoil.

    3. One has to be struck by the education system in Germany which focuses on the masses going into productive trades and elites going into universities with, I would guess, training for elite vocations perhaps more than liberal arts. This is almost the opposite of the United States in the last generation, where everyone was told to go to a university and the trades were downplayed.

    This leads, in the U.S. (and also in Saudi Arabia, for example), to a surplus of non-productive elites and a shortage of trade laborers. This leads to social destabilization if surplus elites are unemployed or can only find work in social activist organizations. I see this in the formation of Al Qaida, which was largely made up of unemployed college grads, as are a number of social activists in the U.S. This social group also presses for expansion of university and government administrative positions, often which are unnecessary and a burden on the system as a whole, in order to find employment.

    4. Becoming a citizen of Germany takes at least 8 years, requires knowledge of the German Constitution, and requires economic self-sufficiency — not being on welfare. Thus, as with stress on productivity in education, being a productive and responsible person is emphasized in gaining citizenship and the right to vote.

    I think all of these aspects of German social institutions indicate why there is far more social stability than what we see in the United States. I would assume that France and the UK fall somewhere between.

    1. Thank you, Dr. Anderson, for your remarks. It is actually cogent to connect my essay with your interesting essay on elites. We can thus enrich our political knowledge and compare various systems.

      German resilience is famous. Their national football team (Mannschaft) is an icon of this resilience in European and world tournaments. This led Britsh Gary Lineker to his famous theorem:

      “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.”

      I agree with you regarding your analysis on the Bundestag and Bundesrat. Hopefully, a German Unificationist may say more about this.

      You are right in saying that institutions “that resist corruption are most important, while term limits just limit the time a politician has to engage in a corrupt process.” American institutions are originally admirable, I think.

      Yes, the education system in Germany is rather balanced. There is a real respect for manual work and for laborers. The famous silent movie “Metropolis” from German filmmaker Fritz Lang (1927) ends with the famous quote, “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must be the Heart.”

      The whole movie describes a terrible dystopia where intellectual eltes live above, and the workers live below (underground actually). But at the end, there is a reconciliation. This obsession for the harmony between the head and the hand is a pillar of German philosophy of education.

      Needless to say, whenever Germany did not keep this balance, the results were terrible. We should remember that the myth of Faust has daunted German modern culture. It has been studied again and again by countless German intellectuals, ever since Goethe published his book. The tragedy of Karl Marx was to celebrate the wedding of brain and hand not centered on heart but on hatred.

      Before that, Georg W. Hegel had ignored Kant’s warning that there can never be any progress of rational knowledge without experiment. Kant warned that reason is to apply to experience and should never be dogmatic. Hegel ignored that warning with his grandiose Phenomenology of the Spirit. He developed a system where the spirit is first alienated in matter. We can see in modern Germany a heroic effort to separate from dialectics, gradually, and returning to the beautiful tradition of Irenicism, and the harmony between head and hand, centered on heart. Still very challenging!

      It is difficult to become a German citizen. German citizenship is based on jus sanguinis, not jus solis. You are German by blood, through lineage, not because you are born in Germany.

      Regarding the United Kingdom and France, they now face a serious identity crisis, I would say. Surely, my respected British friends may not agree with me on this matter, and some would contend that they are recovering their identity. That would be beyond the scope of this essay.

  3. Laurent,

    I always liked Chancellor Merkel because her parents moved to East Germany from Hamburg. Her father had studied theology and became a pastor in the East under Communism. As his family name was originally Polish, Mrs. Merkel always had a good standing with our Polish neighbors. It takes deep roots of faith and an outstanding courage, in my opinon, to do what her parents did. In spite of all political skirmishes, “Angie” (as she’s called by her fans) kept a prayer life and visited church services.

    East Germans are more of a social kind than Westerners who tend to be more individualistic. Mrs. Merkel speaks Russian and always could make herself clear to Mr. Putin, besides she could read the KGB double-talk.

    When she took the responsibility to accept more than a million refugees, I thought it came out of her Christian heart to restore German history, to pay beck our debts.

    As a scientist she seems to be able to watch experiments for a long time before she finds a formula. I also liked that she has never been upset or upfront, but — as you said — showed a motherly heart for everyone.

    Last but not least she restored some of the pride East Germans had lost, because they all could see that many dignitaries from around the world sincerely liked her.

    1. Thank you, Thomas. Your insights on the profile of Mrs. Angela Merkel are deep. This is a needed tribute to a great public figure. My essay focused more on the quality of institutions. Thank you for praising the person, her moral qualities for leadership.

      Her biography suggests that, somehow, she had been prepared for a national and world destiny in a critical period. The details you mention (daughter of a pastor, raised in East Germany, fluent in Russian) suggest that she was the right person at the right place, at the right time.

      This makes me reflect on “unificationism.” All of us were prepared by God to do something for unification (at all levels), in our lifetime. Without ever studying the Unification Principle, Mrs. Merkel often acted as the leader who knows how to bring people together. She was thus laying a foundation for the Messiah in Germany, but did our movement seize the opportunity?

      Of course, our movement likes to mobilize former heads of state and government, so we may now have a chance.

  4. One aspect which is mostly not mentioned in the praises of Angela Merkel after 16 years of being the chancellor of Germany is that she left her party, the CDU, in tatters.

    I still remember her collecting the German flag from other CDU members who were at the stage (2013) and putting them somewhere out of public sight. The family as husband, wife and children was never worthwhile for her to take a stance on. The opposite is happening: if you support the ideals of God and family values you are considered a rightist populist. I don’t agree with this: “She was thus laying a foundation for the Messiah in Germany, but did our movement seize the opportunity?” The conservative voters and other “Merkel No” fellows joined another newly founded party, the AfD, which rose to power during her time. In February 2020, after the election of Thomas Kemmerich as Thuringia state premier, Merkel called his election “unforgivable” expressly because of the support of the rightwing Alternative for Germany (AfD). “The result must be reversed,” she said during a press conference, calling the election “a bad day for democracy.” Take that, the result of a democratic election must be reversed otherwise it is a bad day for democracy.

    There was something strange about Merkel. In the last election, when the CDU had its historic lowest result ever, she supported Laschet as a candidate but never made any effort to support him until the last two weeks when she tried a little. She was called “Mutti,” Mother, she was organized, kept cool, but something was missing. And now we have to pray for her? If the general opinion of the media worldwide is full of awe about Angela Merkel, it makes me all the more suspicious since they are not very much aligned with God’s mind.

  5. Thank you, Josef, for bringing a more critical view of Angela Merkel. We need this in any debate. Your questioning her governance is healthy.

    Is the CDU is in tatters now? Well, that would be natural, for a party which has been in power for many years. The CDU-CSU needs new inspiration.

    Mr. Armin Laschet is a good man. But is he clever, charismatic, inspired? The fact remains that Mrs. Merkel agreed to step down, even though she could have been reelected. It is natural that a person who is willingly passing the baton wants to stay discrete. Otherwise, Laschet may appear just as the creature of Merkel. There is a real debate, here. Personally, I found her attitude natural. She did not want to interfere, simply because her time is over. I understand your point, do not agree 100%.

    My essay was written on the occasion of Mrs. Merkel’s departure, but its central focus concerned the solid institutions of Germany.

    There is a concern, “will Germany take the right path, after Mutti is gone?” There is some uncertainty, whereas the situation in Europe is tense. Personally, I feel confident. For the past 40 years, Germany has done well. Some good principles are guiding this nation, at least in the political and economic areas.

  6. Dear Laurent,

    Even though it was nice to read that you have an appreciation of German political culture and other German historic achievements – this should not overshadow or distort our view when it comes to evaluate the personality of Angela Merkel.

    In this sense, your article appears to be a mix of the positive attitude which was created about Fr. Merkel and portrayed by the mainstream media in Germany and probably in other European nations. This might be combined with your own positive prejudices about Germany.

    I have been an active member of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) for the past 38 years (longer than Merkel) and have quite a different understanding and perception of her personality and achievements. The catastrophic state the party is presently in is very much due to her style of leadership.

    First of all, she has never been consistent, changing her opinions quite often. In the late phase of her present term she seemed to have no convictions at all. She was successful in the elections due to what political scientists later called “asymmetric demobilization.”

    In political science, asymmetric demobilization is an election campaign strategy, that aims to demotivate potential voters for the political opponent to such an extent that they refrain from voting by avoiding statements on controversial topics. If its own voters are not unintentionally demobilized at the same time, the share of the vote of the party that practices this strategy increases. The decline in voter turnout is accepted approvingly when asymmetric demobilization is applied.

    Merkel was a master when it came to surfing the wave of the Zeitgeist. She did not lead but waited until it became clear what the opinion of the majority or mainstream media was, then followed their opinion. She changed her mind many times at will.

    The decisions made by the CDU at party congresses, for example in the election program of the CDU/CSU of 2005, were changed by her into the exact opposite policy against the will of the majority opinion of the party during the 15 years under her reign.

    On public finances – the goal was debt reduction – now we have more debts than ever.

    On taxes – the goal was tax reform and tax reduction – tax rates increased

    On the Euro – Maastricht Treaty – the goal was a no Debt Pact to avoid inflation and guarantee stability. All promises were broken.

    Immigration – CDU was against culturally foreign immigration. Merkel invited everybody in – no matter whether they were entitled for political asylum or not, creating heavy financial burdens on the future generations.

    Energy policies – we need nuclear power for the transition time as well as in the long term – Merkel suddenly decided after the Fukushima disaster that Germany should exit from nuclear power, even though no one died in Fukushima because of radioactive contamination, only from the consequences of the tsunami.

    On Europe – Instead of creating a Europe of the “Vaterländer” (The vision of Adenauer, de Gaulle) she contributed to the erosion of Europe (England and Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) with her immigration policies, etc.

    I am sorry to contradict your rosy image of her 16 years as a chancellor of Germany. She was not “the unbeatable team leader and referee who could get people to work together in a spirit of trust” but rather the opposite. The Christian Democratic Party, in my view, is in shambles now because of her and needs to find its identity again in order to redefine her principles that once contributed to the well-being of this nation. It is time to recover and move on.

    Please – no creation of legends.

    1. Thank you, Karl-Christian, for joining the discussion. You are a needed authority on German politics and I am humbled by your 38-year dedication to politics. Your detailed answer is very informative, especially the concept of asymmetric demobilization. This notion is new to me.

      I may not agree with you on each point, but I totally support your view about energy policies, where you said: “We need nuclear power for the transition time as well as in the long term. Merkel suddenly decided after the Fukushima disaster that Germany should exit from nuclear power, even though no one died in Fukushima because of radioactive contamination, only from the consequences of the tsunami.”

      It is indeed a major contradiction. In general, Germans are far more concerned by the environment than the French. After all, ecology was born in Germany with Alexander von Humboldt and Ernst Haeckel. Moreover, nature is praised with great depth in German literature and arts. Therefore, we used to look at Germany as a green model. It is now less and less the case. French people see that Germany is abandoning nuclear energy but heavily relies on lignite, which is highly polluting. This is very puzzling. It is a challenging issue for German public opinion.

  7. Good article highlighting achievements of a great woman. As a Canadian, proud of our democracy, this article lets us hope for a continued improvement in Canada’s track record. Indeed we read in Wikipedia that “As of 2010, Canada ranked 50th in the world for women’s participation in politics, with women holding just 23 per cent of the seats in federal, provincial and territorial legislatures. At the federal level, Canada was tied with Mauritania for 49th place.”

    Considering that Rev. Sun Myung Moon calls Canada a daughter nation, as a representative of England which is considered providentially a Mother nation, one would expect Canada to show exemplary female leadership.

    Of the top five countries on the Democracy Index 2020 (Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada) all of them have, or have had recently, female presidents or prime ministers. In Norway we remember former prime ministers Gro Harlem Brundtland and Erna Soldberg. In Iceland Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was president for 16 years. Sweden just elected Magdalena Andersson, New Zealand is well known for its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. And Canada stands somewhat apart as the only female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, was not elected but named by Brian Mulroney when he resigned and she was defeated in the general election that followed a few months later. However the current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, prides himself although controversially as being a feminist.

    Laurent’s article rightfully gives recognition to Angela Merkel as the human face of a country with a much tormented last century. Female leadership has been good for Germany, very good. Indeed as Laurent writes, “Under her leadership, people around the world could see that a very powerful country was led by a woman with simple manners, without scandal, and, last but not least, with the heart of a mother”.

    As we look forward to peace on the Korean peninsula, we can look back to Angela Merkel’s legacy and hope for the Korean people to become one again under the stable leadership and the maternal leadership of Dr.Hak Ja Han Moon, the Mother of Peace.

    1. Thank you, Pierre, for your insights. Yes, the Democracy Index is a useful tool for we Unificationists. Unificationism should promote peace studies. As a matter of fact, the most democratic countries are also the most peaceful (global peace index). They are often countries where the equality between men and women is real.

      We say that the world has now entered the age of universal peace. It is also the era of women, therefore we should understand better these peaceful societies where women are easily holding power. Sure enough, most of these nations are very secular. But our movement should try to grasp what are the good practices of these societies.

      Regarding South Korea, which you also mention, it is still a patriarchal and vertical, Confucianist society. Even in our own movement, and despite our theology of the only begotten daughter, most leadership positions are still held by men. We would probably not have an excellent ranking if there was an index about that among the religious movements!

      In February 2013, around the time of Foundation Day, when True Mother concluded the 12-year course to establish Cheon Il Guk, Park Geun-hye (daughter of the late president) had been elected and assumed office. She was the first woman to become Korean president, and also the first female president popularly elected as a head of state in East Asia. She was also the first South Korean president to be born after the founding of the First Republic of Korea. What an amazing destiny!

      A predestination was at work in her life course. She was admired by a large sector of the Korean population who saw in her the traditional virtues of filial piety and public service. But as often happens with such lonely figures (she was apparently a very secretive person), there was some very dark side in her, which surfaced while she was in power, and she was ultimately impeached and imprisoned for corruption.

      I saw it first as a modern Shakespearian tragedy. And I hope that there will be a play or movie about her. It is also a story that probably could take place only in Korea. I often felt that only the Korean dramatic art and culture can produce such a destiny. Korea has a very unique relationship to power, for good or for bad. In some areas, it is one of the most democratic nations of the world. But other aspects of Korean politics remain obscure.

  8. Dear Laurent,

    Thank you for providing a perspective on Germany and the important era of Angela Merkel.

    The mere fact that you as a person with French roots, could write so positively about Germany and express appreciation for its leader is important and significant. You demonstrate how far Europe has come during the past seven decades since the end of World War II.

    More blood has probably been shed in Europe through the ages in a long list of conflicts than anywhere else on earth.

    Interestingly, the more pessimistic comments about Angela Merkel on this blog come from German nationals and that too is testament to the fluidity of opinion across the political and ideological spectrum.

    In my view, positive and constructive exchanges between thought leaders, scholars and citizens in general should serve as a good model for other areas in the world where tensions and conflict continue – for example East Asia. Too often debates are colored by ethnic or nationalistic views.

    The key takeaway was your attempt to introduce the concept of constancy as a German quality. It is important for all of Europe because Germanic influence has been strong for centuries.

    Although modern Germany only became a united country in 1870 with the efforts of Bismarck and others, its influence has been enormous throughout Europe and beyond.

    A quick glimpse at history shows us that Germanic tribes (also referred to as Teutonic, Suebian or Gothic in some literature) spread throughout Europe during the past 2,000 years or longer. Angles, Saxons, Jutes and others to Britain, the Lombards to Italy, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, and others to France and Spain and other tribes that influenced present day Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, other countries of Eastern Europe and more.

    We know from Rev. Moon’s perspective that Germany always held an important role globally and in Europe as a providential country.

    Angela Merkel’s legacy is conflicted as is the story of all human beings. That she has roots in East Germany and is the daughter of a Christian minister is significant. That she remained in power for 16 years may provide some food for thought in countries where there are term limits – for example the United States where presidents can only hold office for two terms of four years each.

    Can Germany continue to be a role model? The asymmetric approach to political persuasion and winning the vote is on the rise in the age of sound bites and an extremely diverse electorate. It is difficult in the current political climate to be doctrinaire and dogmatic on the political and philosophical promotion of a worldview. Politics today is about capturing the center-right and center-left, the so-called moderates. Someone should discuss the difference between what is sometimes referred to as a centrist view and the “head-wing” perspective.

    Overall, I see Germany and Merkel as a positive force in the ongoing clash of civilization and the tension between liberal democratic governance models and authoritarian/totalitarian approaches.

    Such national governance qualities that include process, transparency and policies that seek to improve the quality of life for the general population on fundamental needs should be encouraged.

    We live in an age where millennials do not look positively at programs that are simply profit-driven. The social conscience has evolved.

    Introducing universal God-centered values that include an absolute standard of right and wrong is the most challenging task for people who subscribe to the Unification worldview in the face of the onslaught of moral relativism and views that do not acknowledge the immutable.

    I look forward to more dialogue on the important topic that you have introduced.

  9. Thank you, Franco, for your wise insights. I shall not comment on everything, but focus on the providential role of the Franks, as mentioned in the Principle. It is helpful to grasp the special role of Germany in Europe.

    According to the Divine Principle, after the Fall of the Roman Empire, God prepared the Frankish tribes. They played a key role to lay the foundation for the Messiah. Saul, David and Solomon had been the three great kings of the United Kingdom of Israel. Likewise, there was a three-stage Providence through Charles Martel, his son Pepin the short and his grandson Charlemagne, who became the Emperor on Christmas 800 in Rome. He restored the idea of the Roman empire externally. It was to be guided by the ideas expounded in The City of God, from Augustine.

    Charlemagne reigned from the ciy of Aachen, in Germany, now located near France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The ideals of the current European Union explicitly refer to the Carolingian ideal, for good reason. As soon as Charlemagne was crowned, the terms “Europe”, “European” became popular. Charlemagne was called the “Father of Europe”.

    Today, this region is the core of what some geographers call the Blue Banana. The Blue Banana stretches from London to Milan. It includes Amsterdam, Rotterdam (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium), the Ruhr area and the cities of Cologne (Germany), Strasburg and Lyon (France), almost all of Switzerland and the northern part of Italy (Lombardy, Piedmont) with their two major industrial centers, Milan and Turin.

    The Blue Banana is also called the backbone of Europe. The Netherlands would be the cervical spine and Lombardy the lumbar spine. This Blue Banana almost coincides with Lotharingia. The Principle mentions that, when Charlemagne’s empire split in Verdun (843), the Western Franks (Kingdom of France) stood in the Cain position, whereas the Eastern Franks (Holy Roman empire, later Germany) stood in the Abel position. In between was Lotharingia. As ephemeral as it was, Lotharingia seems to have kept, until today, the essence of God’s election for the Carolingian ideal. The founders of the European Economic Community in 1957, were all people of Lotharingia.

    Studies on the Blue Banana are unanimous. This is the most prosperous and stable part of the European Union. This is where the patrician (bourgeois values) could blossom, starting in Northern Italy, and then flourishing with Lutheran and Calvinist ideals. Indeed, the concept of Blue Banana is sometimes seen as elitist. Some scholars have tried to identify other “bananas”. But from a providential viewpoint, the Blue Banana makes sense.

    The major institutions of the European Union are all located there. However, I often see a lack of genuine interest in the European Union among Unificationists. Euroskepticism, and sometimes a form of Europhobia are easily expressed by our members in Europe. The EU institutions are harshly criticized as being bureaucratic, over-centralized, anonymous, secularized etc. I understand these concerns, of course, but whenever I read the Principle, I get the same feeling, “God so loved Europe”. I still believe that God has hope for the EU, as imperfect as it is.

  10. Olaf Scholtz now succeeds Angela Merkel. The new center left chancellor of Germany told Merkel (center right), “There was always trust among us. It is a good thing, because it shows that we live in a solid democracy” He also pledged, “I hope that this house remains true to its spirit, so typical of North-East Germany, which has reigned so far.”

    Both Merkel and Scholtz have their roots in Hamburg, the second biggest city of Germany, where the hamburger was born. A piece of meat with a slice of bread above and a slice of bread below, maybe more than a metaphor of the good political recipe.

    The question remains, however, wisely raised by Franco Famularo: is headwing equivalent to center and moderate, or is there something more to it. What are the special spices which turn the hamburger into a Heaven’s Burger?

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