Angela Merkel – kanclerka z minimalnim vložkom in minimalnim učinkom

V bistvu nimam veliko dodati k temu, kar je o Angeli Merkel v odličnem komentarju zapisal Ashoka Mody. V 13. letih na oblasti se je okrog nje dogajala zgodovina. Največja kriza po 2. svetovni vojni, desetletje dolgo trajajoča kriza evra, socialna fragmentacija doma in največji migracijski val po 2. svetovni vojni. Toda Merklova se, za razliko od nekaterih njenih velikih predhodnikov – Adenauer, Brandt, Kohl – ni izkazala kot velika voditeljica. Ne doma, ne v tujini. Že ko je prišla na oblast (2005), je prišla brez jasnih stališč in zgolj zato, ker Schröderjeve reforme še niso uspele dati rezultatov. Tudi kasneje se je izogibala jasni politični viziji in ravnanju. Na vse, kar se ji je zgodilo, je odgovarjala zgolj z minimalnim naporom in dolgim zamikom. Toliko, da je “začasno rešila” problem oziroma ga preložila v prihodnost.

Nobenega problema ni rešila. Problem institucionalne nevzdržnosti evrske unije se vleče že 10 let in ni mu videti konca. Namesto potrebnih institucionalnih sprememb v smeri fiskalne unije in skupnih evrskih obveznic ali v smeri večje fleksibilizacije fiskalnih pravil, je Merklova zgolj zategnila fiskalno disciplino vsem članicam evra, da bi Nemčijo zavarovala pred “deljenjem tveganj”. Morda prav zaradi tega evro – v tej sestavi – prihajajoče krize ne bo preživel. Merklova se doma ni lotila socialne fragmentacije in naraščajoče neenakosti, ki so ju povročile Schröderjeve reforme na trgu dela. Izjemno nizke (negativne) cene zadolževanja ni izkoristila za izboljšanje nemške dotrajane transportne infrastrukture.

In edina stvar, za katero se je Merklova res zavzela, za odprtje nemških (in s tem evropskih) meja za sirske in afganistanske begunce, ji je eksplodirala v obraz. Stala jo je trdnosti njene CDU/CSU zgodovinske naveze, z uporom ostalih EU držav je ta poteza načela kredibilnost njene vloge kot voditeljice EU in uspela je soustvariti veliko nacionalistično opozicijo (AfD) v Nemčiji. Slednja je bolj uspešno z antimigrantsko kot prej z antievrsko retoriko uspela aktivirati nižji srednji razred, ki so ga Shröderjeve reforme najbolj prizadele. In to je sila, ki bo v naslednjih letih, sploh če bo EU prizadela močna kriza, imela odločilno vlogo pri dezintegraciji EU.

Čeprav nam je zaradi svoje protestantske skromnosti Merklova lahko simpatična, in meni osebno je, pa si je zgodovina ne bo zapomnila. Če bo Merklova prišla v zgodovinske učbenike, tam ne bo zaradi svojih zgodovinsko velikih voditeljskih potez in uspehov, pač pa zgolj zaradi dolžine njenega mandata na čelu Nemčije. Si predstavljate, kaj bi na njenem mestu dosegel Helmut Kohl?

History placed Merkel amid raging storms: a series of eurozone crises that drove wedges between Europeans; economic tensions at home that fueled social fragmentation; and the largest migration wave since World War II, which intensified European and domestic anxieties. But, rather than rocking the boat, risking her survival, she chose temporary fixes that let the vulnerabilities fester.

Having established no clear policy platform, Merkel has governed largely without a mandate. After each election, various interest groups have hoped that she would adopt a position favorably aligned with their particular preferences. But she knew that refusing to do so was precisely what had enabled her to survive.

Merkel’s preference for muddling through has been apparent in her approach to eurozone reform. She has long known that fixing the monetary union would require her to issue a politically risky call for financial sacrifice by Germans. The call was risky, because the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the man who single-handedly carried the euro across the finish line, had promised that no sacrifice would be required.

Hence, for fear of alienating Germans, Merkel has consistently done the minimum to hold the eurozone together. […]

Although Merkel’s characteristically dull campaign approach won her a fourth term as chancellor last year, her electoral base has weakened considerably – a trend that has been reinforced by domestic economic failures. Merkel has to cope with the legacy of Schröder’s controversial labor-market and welfare reforms, which, among other things, made it easier to fire workers and, by reducing unemployment benefits, forced many unemployed people to take insecure jobs with few benefits. The reforms helped to reduce the jobless rate, but at the cost of stagnant inflation-adjusted wages and widespread personal financial stress.

To be sure, rising inequality, wage stagnation, and working-class frustration are evident across the developed world. Merkel, like her counterparts elsewhere, did little to address the problems. This is not because Merkel lacked vision: in April 2010, she described a Germany powered by improved education and innovation. Only a society that advanced technologically, she concluded, could provide decent opportunities for all.

But, unwilling to challenge the domestic political consensus on fiscal austerity, Merkel refused to invest in Germany’s future, say, by repairing decaying infrastructure and upgrading educational opportunities. Instead, she made flailing efforts to protect the increasingly obsolete diesel technology base of Germany’s car producers. Such delays in reinvigorating the country’s auto industry could drag down the entire economy.

Merkel’s failure to reverse social fragmentation led to rising support for the AfD. In the 2017 election, AfD voters tended to be men between the ages of 30 and 59 with only secondary education or vocational training, working blue-collar jobs – often with little job security – in small cities and rural areas. Many such voters once supported the CDU and CSU, but were attracted by the AfD’s nationalist, xenophobic platform. The CDU has been weakened, and Merkel’s hold over her own party has eroded. It is time for her to step down.

Vir: Ashoka Mody, Project Syndicate

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