Name? Angela Merkel
Westphalian identity? German
Why is she in the news? Last night Angela, the saviour, Merkel came down from above and spoke to the commoners, the Germans. This was the first time she’s given an unplanned address as she usually only speaks to us commoners in her New Year’s address in which she discusses the most generic topics. Same procedure every year. We are German after all.
Why do we care? If the queen of backroom talks speaks to her subjects in an address, the nation, sorry the world must be at the brink of a catastrophe. Just like in 2008 during the financial crisis, 2011 during the Euro-crisis or 2015 during the refugee crisis, wait, she never talked to us then? So what is different this time?! Is the world actually ending?! No, she is just calling for solidarity of everyone. If people are responsible, there is no need to lock them in their homes.
Why should you care? She is the unofficial head of Europe! Of course, you care! But apart from that, you should care because she actually addressed the situation differently to her European neighbours, and is now handling the situation differently. Unlike Spain, France and Italy, Germany is not in complete lockdown. While Macron called the fight against Corona a war, using the military and war rhetoric to unify his country, Merkel is not. She did call the challenge the hardest one since WWII but apart from that, she asked for understanding and solidarity of everyone.
Who else cares? The rest of Europe could learn a thing or two from the Germans (unpopular opinion, surely, as always) and therefore, should care. Merkel is a physicist, a scientist, she, therefore, listens to the professionals more than others. Not only does she listen to the medical experts, but she also listens to everyone else in the room, the economist, the teacher, the farmers and all other interest groups. Merkel is known as the “consensus chancellor:” she sides with the consensus of most in the room in order to find the best solution for all. A general lockdown while most small towns in Germany do not have any cases? Does that make sense? Not in her view. How could she know, the people there will make the best decision according to her maxim of flattening the curve.
Any further comments? This is, of course, easy in the federal system Germany has. Merkel leaves it rather open to the state and local authorities to make decisions for each town. Are there lockdowns in Germany? Yes, in a small town in Bavaria there is because there have been more cases than in other regions. But does a lockdown make sense in a town of 150000 people with 11 active cases? Not so much, at least according to the local authorities.