Madam Chancellor: Angela Merkel and the Triangulation of German Foreign Policy

Authored by: Joyce Mushaben

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Economic Participation, International Agreements, Political Transitions
Country: Germany
Region: Europe and Eurasia
Year: 2009
Citation: Mushaben, Joyce. "Madam Chancellor: Angela Merkel and the Triangulation of German Foreign Policy." Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 10, no. 1 (2009): 27-35.

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Executive Summary

Socialized under a politically authoritarian, economically challenged regime, Angela Merkel was hardly the girl one would have characterized in a school yearbook as the person most likely to one day lead Europe’s biggest and wealthiest postwar nation. Within months of her election as chancellor, however, Forbes had christened Merkel “the Most Powerful Woman in the World” and Time Magazine listed her among the “top 100 people who shape our world.” Catapulted into the same league as Queen Victoria and Catherine the Great (her role model), Germany’s first woman leader has also been compared with figures ranging from Joan of Arc to Margaret Thatcher. Despite her ostensible refusal to play the gender card, Merkel’s leadership style and policy savvy have given new credence to the feminist mantra of 1960s: “The personal is the political.” Although her path to power was far from conventional and her march through the party-political institutions breathtakingly short, this chancellor evinces unique capabilities that have allowed her to emerge as the decade’s most effective mediator among three competing forces: the United States, the European Union, and Russia. Contributing to Merkel’s success are her East German upbringing throughout the 1950s and 1960s, her activities as a natural scientist in the 1970s and 1980s, and her political re-education within an alphamale partisan arena following unification in 1990. This essay examines the ways in which Merkel has applied her biographically configured skill-set in shoring up Germany’s special, albeit conflicting, relationships with those three global players since 2005.