The systemic failure of many European leaders is not glaring. Last year this time Chancellor Merkel with a her scientist background basked in the glow of keeping Germany safe during the initial stages of the Covid-19 outbreak. Whereas Donald Trump chose to deny, then bluster his way through the crisis. The German leaders calm path through looked to be the wining strategy. What a difference a year makes.
Suddenly, the technocratic Merkel feels lost, out of touch with the desperate reality. The EU’s largest country is struggling to get a grip on the pandemic. Policies have gone off the rails, from the vaccine rollout, fail tracking apps, to never ending lock downs, Berlin’s plan is murky. As confidence in Germany’s weakening leader takes grip, the question now becomes what is next? Clearly, someone in charge needs to devise a new approach to the always shifting course of the pandemic.
Remember the scene from James Cameron’s Titanic? The mighty passenger cruiser hit an iceberg, passenger and crew are in panic while the captain wonders about in a state of shock. Germany is not at this point, but the country cannot take being unsinkable for granted. With politicians giving endless deer in the headlight press conferences, the population is losing faith. Exasperated by the fact that after 12 months of lockdowns, nothing has changed, voters are turning on the CDU. The latest poll places the big tent conservative party only 2 points ahead of the Green party, at 25%.
I have to hand it to the 66 year old head of state, a master tactician to the end. A policy u-turn, an apology, TV appearance, what does she offer? Noting new, but repackaging the same old failed plans with new words. Even her most ardent supporters would have to start asking, “Is Angela Merkel up for the job?” After 16 years in office, a new way of thinking is needed, fast.
Meanwhile, German national elections happen in 6 months. It’s going to be a long summer.