Must Merkel lead the West?

During his farewell visit to Berlin, the outgoing US President Barack Obama was generous in his praise for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, declaring that she "stands for great credibility and is willing to fight for her values". Many journalists see Merkel as the last remaining guarantor of Western ideals after Trump's election victory. Others doubt whether she is up to the task.

Open/close all quotes (GR) /

The gap must be filled

There is only one person who is in a position to defend the free world against its enemies, Protagon is convinced:

“Ms Merkel has understood that history has given her a momentous task. She has long been aware of this but we here in Greece didn't want to admit it. In 2015 she didn't want to watch the EU collapse because a few people in Berlin and Athens were playing with the fate of a country. She kept us in the Eurozone and kept the EU together. Now it seems she will act as the counterweight to Trump, Putin, the Chinese, Erdoğan and others. … It's difficult for us to accept Germany as the leader of the free world, as the successor to Obama's America. … But since Trump prefers to focus on West Virginia rather than the lack of democracy in Eastern Europe, the Greek crisis, the Cyprus question and Erdoğan's madness, someone has to fill the gap.”

La Stampa (IT) /

The Iron Chancellor is our only hope

A new era is dawning with Obama's departure, La Stampa believes:

“This is the start of the liberal democratic resistance to the Trump-Brexit-Cinque Stelle phenomenon. ... It won't be easy, because the values that have prevailed in Western democracies since the end of World War II no longer seem to be shared by everyone. ... Obama and Merkel, and perhaps also Hollande and Renzi, must shoulder responsibility. They contributed to the political revolution to which they have now fallen victim. The inability to give globalisation a good name among the lower classes, Germany's insistence on austerity even when it's counter-productive, Southern Europe's economic swindles - all this has helped to alienate the people. ... Now the battle lines have been drawn. On the one side charismatic and honey-tongued wreckers like Trump, Le Pen and Grillo. And on the other? Now that the president of hope has bid farewell, there's only the Iron Chancellor.”

Le Point (FR) /

Merkel is not a great politician

Angela Merkel's rise to leader of the EU was anything but predictable, Le Point notes:

“The strangest thing is that Germany never really tried to become the leader of Europe: its partners' weaknesses, and above all France's loss of clout, have prompted the chancellor to take on this role for which she really wasn't predestined. ... Angela Merkel is anything but a woman of vision and grand strategies. She is reluctant to assume the international responsibilities that her country's importance prescribes, and she is very unwilling to deploy the Bundeswehr abroad. As she herself says, she's more like a Swabian housewife, busy cooking up a good soup and keeping an eye on the family budget. It's the circumstances and quirks of history that have turned Angela Merkel into the European Union's figurehead.”

Politiken (DK) /

Team effort needed

Merkel won't be able to save today's world order all on her own, Politiken adds:

“Many people are now rushing to proclaim Angela Merkel as the new leader of the free world. But that's premature, and what's more, it's wrong. German leadership is welcome and necessary. But more than that is required to ensure the survival of the EU and transatlantic cooperation. Other politicians - Danes included - must defend the institutions and values that form the backbone of our economic system. We don't need a solo performance, we need a team effort.”