from FRANCO VENTURINI
A biography (Rizzoli) written by Massimo Nava is released on Tuesday 31 August, which traces the events of an authoritative but also controversial leader, and questions the future of Germany and the European Union without the chancellor
Angela Merkel’s long farewell is about to reach the final act and, as only the great leaders do, the world is already gripped by regrets. Not out of custom, not because she was Chancellor for 16 years, but rather because a void in Berlin scares everyone, friends and adversaries. The new German question lurking after the September elections is precisely this, and it concerns us all: what will Germany be like without Merkel, and what will Europe be like without Merkel’s Germany? Will the EU take the first blow of this betting season without too much damage, which will continue in April 2022 with the French elections? And on some fundamental issues of international politics, the Germany-China relationship, the Germany-Russia relationship, the clouds that gather over the West after the flight from Kabul, transatlantic relations, there will be someone in Berlin capable of not making a chancellor regret all common sense, all reasonableness, but also very hard, almost cruel when it was useful to her?
In a time of such uncertainties, before knowing what will come, it is useful to know as exactly as possible what is going away. And it is precisely for this reason that the work that Massimo Nava, well known to Corriere readers as a columnist and correspondent, offers us in his new book is meritorious. Angela Merkel, on the way to Rizzoli.
Tireless in the search for news details but always ready to grasp and explain the politically relevant nuances, Nava sets out to tell Merkel from the cradle to sunset. And it is precisely these, the portrait of the family, the description of the daily confrontation with the Big Brother of the GDR where Merkel goes to live very young and becomes an adolescent and then a woman, the most beautiful and most interesting pages of Nava’s book.
The author points out that many opponents, in the years as chancellor and even before, they dug into the archives of the Stasi, the political police, to try to find something that could weaken or definitively sink Merkel. Without getting to anything. And besides, if Angela had had some skeletons in the closet, it is to be assumed that she would not have been so determined, so sure of herself in her political rise in unified Germany.
When the Wall collapses, Merkel doesn’t jump for joy on its ruins. He is working, in his early thirties and a serious person, although he wears jeans most of the time. It does not like the GDR, but neither does the liberal capitalism that is making its way in the West. It is no coincidence that the economic philosophy of unified Germany will be called the social market economy. Nava recounts the birth of the new Germany by retracing the difficult choices of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a giant of German politics to which the inexperienced and young Angela approaches without complexes. Did you understand that the new government in Bonn, waiting for Berlin, will necessarily have to co-opt not too uncomfortable exponents of the former GDR?
The fact is that Merkel enters the party machine of the CDU, she has the opportunity to assert her qualities, she also stands out in the upper echelons and one day finds herself Minister of Equal Opportunities, she who has never been a feminist, but who has known how to make her way in a world of men only. Meanwhile at his second marriage, with a fellow professor of physical and chemical research. Win a seat in the Bundestag. She meets Kohl for the first time, and he likes it so much (certainly not because of her physical appearance) that she silently becomes the Chancellor’s closest collaborator. He esteems her enough to appoint her Minister of the Environment, a much more important position. And here, as the CDU goes through a waning phase after the initial triumphs following unification, comes the most discussed moment of the person Angela Merkel.
Nava, like others, calls it parricide. Without notifying Kohl, on the evening of December 21, 1999, Minister Merkel sent an article to the authoritative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in which she declared her general esteem for the father-chancellor, but immediately after accusing him of being the father of the CDU and of refuse a replacement at the top that is now necessary. He stabbed him in the back and turned the blade twice will be one of the comments tomorrow.
Political cynicism, unstoppable ambition, scarce morality, or simple observation of a situation that was worsening and required new blood at the helm? Even today, opinions are divided, but the thesis of the state of necessity to remedy the loss of electoral consensus prevails. And it prevails especially after the age of 16 as chancellor. In this long journey that is about to end, Angela Merkel has also attracted a lot of criticism. The decision-making delays and then the relentless severity towards Greece (which had falsified the budget, a mortal sin where the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic is still remembered). Or the sometimes authoritarian defense of German interests in Brussels. Little thing, for one thing, in the face of the lucid firmness with which he defended Europe from the assault of Donald Trump, or kept it united during the Brexit negotiations. It is the reassuring normality guaranteed to the Germans and the pro-European passion for the benefit of all that determine a judgment that will go down in history.
Angela say goodbye without fanfare. And the worried world will greet you, hoping that it’s just a goodbye.
August 29, 2021 (change August 29, 2021 | 19:42)