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Germany

Opinion: It's what Merkel wants

The German chancellor gave an impressive TV interview - but she wasn't convincing. "We will manage," Angela Merkel says. DW's Marko Langer asks who, exactly, she meant by "we."

"Just imagine we would all declare that we can't manage - what would happen then? It's just not an option!"

Angela Merkel's remark two minutes into her interview on Wednesday night was a key moment. You don't have to be a supporter of [Bavarian state premier] Horst Seehofer, or even xenophobic, to respond: "Yes, chancellor, it is!"

Just because I don't have any other solution doesn't mean my solution is the right one. Anyone who ever flunked a math test is familiar with the feeling of having done their best to get a better grade, but to no avail.

Marko Langer

DW's Marko Langer

Unfortunately, high-profile TV interviewer Anne Will let this important moment pass - and the chancellor made remarks to that effect more than once. Angela Merkel received a lot of praise on social media even before the interview was over, probably thanks more to her performance than what she said. It's quite impressive to see our head of government, still wearing the same blazer she had on that afternoon at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, explain her policies without flinching. But when it comes to details - such as how many Syrians, Albanians, Iraqis and Afghans are in or are en route to Germany - things get hazy.

No numbers

"Do you have a concrete number, or is that part of the disorder, that you don't have figures?," asked Anne Will - a good question, while the answer was wordy and elusive at the same time. No, the Chancellor didn't know – pardon - didn't name -figures.

And that's the problem.

When that is the reaction where key issues are at stake, it's just not convincing in the end, and that might catch up with the head of government. She is surrounded by welcoming Germans. But she's also surrounded by great skepticism, and by her party's Bavarian CSU sister party in Munich that decries "self-defense" on the borders. Even the Social Democrat coalition partners reacted by letting Secretary General Yasmin Fahimi call Merkel's actions short-sighted, likening her to a driver doing her best to potter forward in poor visibility.

Will we manage?

My impression is that they are really nervous over at the chancellor's office. You don't easily surrender a man like Thomas de Maiziere. You really don't participate in a talk show after a supposedly historic appearance at the European Parliament. All Peter Altmaier, newly responsible for refugee matters, said this morning was: "We are able to manage." That surely was just a slip of the tongue.

Is the Chancellor's star waning? I don't have a clue! But no matter how often you watch the Chancellor's interview with Anne Will, the woman at the helm has but one solution, namely enforcing a different distribution with the European partners. If France, Hungary, Austria and others continue to avoid responsibility, then "We will manage" won't work. Then her poll ratings will continue to slip and suddenly, Angela Merkel might be alone - even and perhaps in particular within her own party.

But before than happens, she just might be awarded that great peace prize from Scandinavia.

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