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Angela Merkel’s Legacy – Impact of her Leadership on Germany and Europe

In a political career spanning more than two decades, Angela Merkel has become one of the most influential figures in modern European politics. After 16 years leading Germany as Chancellor, Merkel will soon hand over the reins to a new leader following yesterday’s federal elections in Germany. A look at her legacy reveals how Merkel’s leadership has navigated the nation and continent through turbulent times.

Throughout her tenure as head of state, Merkel’s steady hand helped Germany successfully steer through multiple crises. This was true even during 2008 when the global financial collapse threatened to destabilize the entire region. By introducing measures such as bailouts and government guarantees, she played a key role in preventing a full-scale meltdown of the Eurozone economy.

The 2015 migrant crisis further tested Merkel’s diplomatic abilities as Chancellor. Her decision to open German borders to asylum seekers from war-torn countries made her controversial in some quarters but ultimately showed solidarity with those fleeing conflict. This approach managed to maintain order without completely dampening public sentiment against migration into Europe.

Merkel also faced one of her biggest challenges yet this year – responding to the coronavirus pandemic which threatened to overwhelm Germany’s healthcare system and economy. Working closely with medical experts and scientists, she moved quickly to implement restrictions such as lockdowns and social distancing mandates that helped contain COVID-19 cases but also meant severe economic disruption for millions of Germans during 2020.

Apart from dealing with major challenges, Merkel has left behind an impressive legacy in terms of German foreign relations too. During her time as leader, she worked hard at improving ties with both Russia and Turkey while also standing up for European Union principles like free movement within its borders. Her commitment to protecting human rights was also evident in her vocal opposition to Hungary’s authoritarian regime led by Viktor Orban.

One of the defining issues that emerged during yesterday’s election was climate change, something Merkel had already made clear she wanted action on since 2017 when she declared “there is no Plan B because there is no Planet B”. She pushed for climate neutrality by 2050 across Europe and focussed on renewable energy sources such as wind turbines during her final years in office; it remains to be seen if whoever succeeds her will continue this path or roll it back substantially due to increased pressure from industry lobbies opposed to the implementation of green initiatives at a faster rate.

With Angela Merkel now entering the twilight phase of her career, all eyes are now on who will be appointed Chancellor next month after coalition talks between various parties conclude over the coming weeks. As one era ends another begins but what can’t be denied is that Angela Merkel has left an indelible mark not only on German politics but European history itself and no matter who becomes Chancellor next they have big shoes to fill if they wish to put their own stamp on history as their predecessor did before them.

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