Angela Merkel

A Lone Defender of Western Values

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • With a rise in nationalistic and autocratic tendencies amongst world leaders, Angela Merkel’s balanced leadership style and defense of multilateralism is needed now more than ever.
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  • Facts

    Facts

    • Angela Merkel risked losing her chancellorship by allowing some 1 million refugees into Germany in 2015, but gained respect amongst international leaders.
    • Ms. Merkel played a key role in convincing the E.U. to impose sanctions on Russia following Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimea.
    • The New York Times recently praised Ms. Merkel as a model defender of liberal democracy.
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    Audio

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Christian Democrats (CDU) Hold Federal Convention
German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles to applauding delegates after her speech at the 29th federal congress of the CDU on December 6 in Essen, Germany. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It’s a gloomy November morning on the East Coast of the United States. This tired reader of the venerable New York Times is rubbing his eyes in vague disbelief. The sometimes aloof paper, which tends to shy away from lavishing exuberant praise, has made Angela Merkel the last bastion of the free world and a model defender of liberal democracy.

It’s hard to imagine higher praise. But considering Donald Trump was just elected the next president of the United States, it’s also hard to imagine a time of greater despair. And that is precisely why this surprising accolade for the German chancellor gives one pause to reflect. Can Angela Merkel, who has decided to run for a fourth term in office, fulfill the role of defender of freedom and democracy?

Geopolitically, 2016 has been an annus horribilis for the West. Both the British Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump have forced us to question the order of things. The United States of America could lose its predominant position in the world under a new, erratic president while the People’s Republic of China could grow to become a superpower. Meanwhile, without leadership, Europe is looking at the ruins of its efforts to integrate both newcomers and long-term ethnic and religious minorities. At the moment, social solidarity appears to be deteriorating.

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