qatsi (qatsi) wrote,


Book Review: Angela Merkel - Europe's most influential leader, by Matthew Qvortrup
Unsurprisingly, a fair few political books show up in the work book sale, and I thought this would be interesting. Politicians are often viewed differently at home and abroad - Thatcher and Gorbachev are two obvious examples of leaders whose overseas reputation is much more positive than the domestic view.

There were some surprises from the off. I hadn't realised that Merkel was born in West Germany; her family moved to the East a few weeks later, where her father had a job as a Lutheran pastor. It seems clear that Merkel was brought up in a family that complied with the regime, but no more. A promising education led to a university career, but with that, a short-lived marriage. The characteristic of long and careful consideration and consensus-building is one that Qvortup introduces as 1989 approaches, with Merkel tentatively entering into political discussion, but then, having first joined a small party in the last months of the DDR, she found herself propelled upwards rapidly into the CDU. During the 1990s she had a largely successful career, though not without occasional setbacks and bruises. Another theme emerges - that of being a survivor, biding time, and taking out political enemies when the opportunity presents itself.

Qvortup's biography paints a sympathetic picture, and it would be interesting to discover alternative perspectives. One thing that is striking, given the current political climate, is that Merkel is in many ways an outsider in the CDU/CSU - much less socially conservative than the grass roots of the party, but more popular with the general public, at least until the refugee crisis. It's not yet clear whether she will survive this year's elections, or whether Enoch Powell's comment about all political careers ending in failure will be validated again.
Tags: books, europe, politics
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