Friday 19 January 2018

Powerful, puzzling and a lot like our Bertie

Bertie Ahern and Angela Merkel facing the press in Berlin
Bertie Ahern and Angela Merkel facing the press in Berlin

ANGELA Merkel is one of the most puzzling politicians in Europe. While she appears to be German to her fingertips, she also resembles that most Irish of politicians and her near contemporary – Bertie Ahern. There are obvious differences – the 59-year-old Merkel has yet to destroy her country's economy or appear in a tribunal in Dublin Castle – but there are also striking similarities.

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and a member of the rival SPD, explains her popularity like this: "It is Merkel's modest demeanour, her humble normality that so many Germans like and can relate to."

The same could have been said about Ahern during his three terms in office. Like Ahern, Merkel is a centrist and pragmatic politician who keeps her cards close to her chest while somehow articulating voters' desires and concerns. Both leaders also had similar careers, entering politics young and then growing up in the shadow of strong and charismatic leaders who eventually stumbled over political donations.

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