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Angela's safe hands, broad global reach attract voters in German elections

Angela's safe hands, broad global reach attract voters in German elections
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‘Angie’: on the campaign trail, she’s happy to use her nickname. It’s a warm connector with Germans of all walks of life and ages. She’s always on time arriving for her relatively small rallies – replete with world leader aura, yet still accessible to ordinary people, calm and forthright in her expression.

“The last four years have not gone well except for us Germans,” she said at one gathering. “Four years from now, I want us to be able to say that a lot more people are better off than today. That’s what I’m working toward, and that’s why I’m asking you to vote Christian Democrat, for my CDU party, so I can continue to be your chancellor.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel won her second term in office with an enviable popularity rating of 60 percent. She has done very well for a politician.

When she took the oath for the first time in 2005, she had to govern with the Social Democratic Party. Her CDU and the SPD were almost on an equal footing. She had to give up her promise of lowering taxes.

The world financial crisis wouldn’t be long in coming. The September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers forced the Chancellor to manage on the fly – improvise.

When she came in, in December 2005, unemployment had been just over 11 percent. She would govern with the benefit of reforms brought about by her predecessor, the SPD’s Gerhard Schroeder. By the 2009 elections, unemployment was down to eight percent. In spite of the euro crisis and the global economic crisis, the German jobless rate kept going down. It’s been at 6.8 percent lately.

Many German voters give Merkel the credit for this, especially when they look at unemployment in other countries in Europe.

Josef Janning, with the German Council on Foreign Relations, says: “She has often been compared to Margaret Thatcher in Europe, portrayed as someone cold. That is not the image that Germans have of her. Their pet nickname for her is ‘Mutti’ – someone close to us who cares for us.”

‘Germany’s future in good hands’ – a powerful campaign image… The centre-right governing CDU party is going all-out to reassure voters of this, to try to convince them they should entrust Merkel with a third term as their chancellor.