The political veteran became came into power in November 2005 and for several years has been a hugely popular Chancellor, with her approval rating among the German people regularly jumping above an impressive 80 percent. In that time, she has overseen and successfully navigated Germany through some of the most testing times both it and the European Union have ever experienced. Angela Merkel has battled a series of potential disasters, including the global financial crisis in 2007 and the ensuing Greek financial slump, migrant crisis over the past decade, the Covid pandemic and was an influential voice in the European Union’s talks with the UK over Brexit.
In 2018, the EU figurehead said she would not seek a fifth term as Chancellor and her longevity is notable – among democratic Germany’s post-World War II leaders, she is second only behind Helmut Kohl, who led Germany from 1982 to 1998.
Following the German election on Sunday, her 16-year reign will come to an end and despite her apparent popularity, most Germans have revealed in a poll they will not muss the 67-year-old.
A representative survey by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of the German regional newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine of 5,007 people from September 22-24 revealed a shocking result.
It showed more than half (52 percent) will not miss Mrs Merkel as the country’s Chancellor. More than two-thirds (38 percent disagreed), while the remaining 10 percent were undecided.
The survey shows Mrs Merkel is still polarising opinion – despite her 16 years in office.
Nearly four in 10 (40 percent) questioned said they will “definitely not” miss her, around a quarter said they “definitely” will.
Unsurprisingly, most of those who said they will miss Mrs Merkel when she finally leaves as Chancellor come from supporters of her own political party.
The survey showed almost two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents from the CDU/CSU camp will miss the Chancellor, but three out of ten (30 percent) disagreed.
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On the flip side, supporters of the rival AfD have a completely different opinion, with just two percent of those surveyed stating they will miss Mrs Merkel when she departs and a huge 96 percent stating she won’t be missed at all.
Earlier this week, former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was full of praise for the legacy Mrs Merkel will leave behind, as well as the personal qualities she possesses and what she has achieved in her time as Chancellor.
When asked what her most underrated quality is Mr Juncker, who headed up the EU from 2015 until 2019, told Politico’s Playbook: “She has listened to everyone — small, medium, big countries, she never made any distinction.
“This also explains her influence in the EU.”
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The former European Commission President added Mrs Merkel “always followed the domestic political debate in other countries more closely” than other leaders.
He said: “That was her European political charm, that everyone had the impression that you could tell her things the way they are at home, and she wove that into the overall web of European solutions to which she contributed.”
Francois Hollande, who was French President between 2012 and 2017, recently told a documentary by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle entitled ‘Angela Merkel — Navigating a World in Crisis’: “Angela Merkel will be remembered as a great European stateswoman.
“She kept the European Union together — despite the numerous crises we experienced.”
Tony Blair, who served as UK Prime Minister for a decade from 1997 until 2007, also said of Mrs Merkel: “It is still a remarkable achievement to hold Europe together in this most difficult set of years Europe went through.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.