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Flattery will get you everywhere: Merkel as Elastigirl from "The Incredibles" during carnivalImage: AP

Press Review: Merkel's First 100 Days

DW staff (dc)
March 1, 2006

Applause for her performance abroad, doubts about what's to come at home -- European editorial writers were kind in their reviews of Angela Merkel's first 100 days in office, but fear the honeymoon could soon end.


The French paper Le Figaro congratulated Merkel on her successful foreign policy during her first 100 days in office. "From Warsaw to London and Davos, in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Merkel succeeded in combining the diplomatic inheritance of her mentor, Helmut Kohl, with that of her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder -- the European and Atlantic tradition of the one, and the defense of national interests of the other," the paper commented.

A question of gender?

Britain's Financial Times decided to speculate on whether the initial successes of Merkel's chancellorship could be put down to a certain "female touch" she brings to foreign policy. Well aware that such a hypothesis could be thrown out by some as "thinly veiled discrimination," the paper nonetheless made a case for its assumption, arguing: "After all, she visited President George W. Bush in Washington to relaunch a productive German-American relationship but uttered clear words on the need to close down the Guantanamo prison. She decided not to embrace (nor kiss à la Gerhard Schröder) Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, and sent strong signals to Hamas. From these initial -- and very successful -- moves we may draw two rules that seem to apply to Ms. Merkel's 'female' foreign policy: firm but sober on principles, tough but patient on implementation."

Merkel in Amerika
A less-than-flattering view of Merkel's relationship with the US administrationImage: Jacques Tilly

The Swiss paper Der Bund took a closer look at what's behind the praise being heaped on the Merkel administration, and found that the positive reviews are deceptive. It commented that "the team around the CDU leader profited to a large extent from the implosion of the red-green coalition in 2005, and the paralysis that set in after the indecisive election. Compared to that uncertainty, the unspectacular but solidly working government is a boon, no matter whether or not you agree with what it's doing." But the paper feared that this would not be enough in the long run, and predicted that Merkel -- who it described as more of a social democrat in some points than the Social Democrats themselves -- risks frustrating her grand coalition partners.

The Paris-based paper Libération also foresaw difficulties for Merkel in the future, mainly because, as it commented, "she has not even had to get to grips with the bigger stones lying in her path." Everyone's waiting for Merkel to tackle issues such as unemployment and the financing of health care -- issues where the CDU and the SPD do not at all see eye to eye, the paper wrote.

Unemployment the true test

Britain's The Times, however, said that Merkel's aura has already begun to fade, and predicted that the issue of unemployment will be her undoing. "Dozens of bouquets have been prepared to mark her 100th day as chancellor, but the only number that seemed to count was the 5,048,000 on the dole," the paper wrote. On the domestic front, Merkel has changed the law to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 and increase VAT by three points, but according to the Times, "neither initiative addresses the dilemma of how to translate higher growth -- now predicted to be 1.5 percent this year -- into jobs."

But the Belgian paper La Libre Belgique thought that the honeymoon could continue, just a little longer. "Even critical observers admit that she's not made a single faux pas," the paper commented. "It's gone on for so long as to have almost become boring."

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