The Germany that Angela Merkel will leave to her successor after the September 26 elections no longer scares Europeans. This is one of the lessons of the survey that the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) has just carried out among some 16,000 citizens in twelve Member States (Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Spain, France , Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden) of the European Union (EU). And the better the country is, the more respondents – whether French, Italian or Hungarian – trust Berlin to manage community affairs. “Contrary to what we have seen in the past, the power and prosperity of Germany now contribute to its image as a reliable partner”, write Piotr Buras and Jana Puglierin in the report What do Europeans expect from post-Angela Merkel Germany? which they wrote after their opinion poll.
This is obviously due to the personality of this Chancellor who grew up in the former GDR and who, above all, was keen to maintain the unity of the European bloc. Between the crisis in the euro zone ten years ago, the influx of migrants in 2015, the Brexit referendum in 2016 and more recently the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction of Europe has been severely tested. times. With a consummate art of compromise, Angela Merkel has, for sixteen years, played a crucial role in keeping countries with often divergent histories, cultures and interests on board.
In this context, to the question “If there was an election for the presidency of Europe and you had to choose between Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, who would you vote for? “, the people questioned indicated their preference for the chancellor: she would indeed collect 41% of the votes, against 14% for the French president. “With her technocratic leadership style, she inspires more confidence than Macron with her visionary speeches”, comment the authors. In the twelve countries surveyed, Angela Merkel would be the winner. From north to south of Europe, from west to east, not one would be missing. And in the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, it would even win a majority of the ballots.
Yet we remember a time, when Greece threatened to go bankrupt, when the German obsession with austerity had deeply divided Europe. Since then, Angela Merkel has evolved, supporting a debt common to the Twenty-Seven to finance the European recovery plan intended to cope with the ravages of the Covid. To the “frugal”, very concerned about the use of public funds, as to the southern countries, which spend more, she finally knew how to give pledges, at different times of her long life as chancellor, “Positioning Germany as a unifying force”, write Piotr Buras and Jana Puglierin.
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