GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel will continue to hold the reigns of Germany as results were out in the recently concluded federal elections. Though the alliance of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union put up its worst performance in seven decades, the coalition, with the highest number of vote share and seats, Merkel will serve her fourth term as the Chancellor of Germany. The Chancellor has been left with the only option of teaming with either the Free Democratic Party and the Greens which have won 80 and 67 seats respectively in the 630-seat Parliament which has returned 326 members of CDU-CSU alliance. The election’s surprise, however, was the far-Rightwing party ‘Alternative for Germany’ (AfD) which won 94 seats getting enough ammunition to attack the government. In fact, the Right alliance rode on its anti-immigration and anti-Islamic planks not to mention its anti–multiculturalism. Merkel is known as a liberal leader whose famous migration policy allowed free access to millions of Syrian refugees into Germany. Her strong appeal for integration of immigrants has been debated but generally welcomed. However, Merkel’s qualities of leadership came to the fore during the global financial slump and Brexit. The Chancellor’s remarkable initiative ensured Germany quickly recovered from the economic crisis. Without doubt, her non-confrontational approach towards countries has won her more admirers than detractors. Though she has had her share of critics, and is not immune from controversies, by and large the Chancellor has had the people with her. Now, the strenuous task of cushioning her image as well as pushing Germany to the centrestage of world politics beckons her. Importantly, the rise of smaller parties like the AfD largely due to its “taking our land back” slogan borrowing heavily from Donald Trump’s “America first” approach, should worry Merkel. The formidable Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, may have to juggle with her priorities though any dramatic shift in her domestic and international policies look remote. New Delhi, which has benefited from an excellent Modi-Merkel rapport, should look forward to Merkel’s continued co-operation.