Tuesday 12 December 2017

Our hand is out for some help, not for six of the best

Let's hope the re-elected Chancellor Merkel will remember and reward the sacrifices we've made, writes Marc Coleman

GRATEFUL: Angela Merkel has much to thank us for
GRATEFUL: Angela Merkel has much to thank us for
Marc Coleman

Marc Coleman

Imagine for a moment that after their 2004 local election drubbing, Fianna Fail had replaced Bertie Ahern with Mary O'Rourke. Imagine further that instead of the binge that followed, our national finances and property market had been kept in check and Fianna Fail had won the last two elections. In a manner of speaking, that has just happened in Germany. After ditching Gerhard Schroeder in 2005, Germans have rewarded his successor, Angela Merkel, for what have been eight years of stable and successful government with re-election. But what does it mean for us?

In Germany, Merkel's image has gone from dour Prussian hausfrau to maternal warmth in the space of a decade, and she now enjoys the affectionate moniker, Mutti Merkel (something like Mammy O'Rourke)

In Ireland, perhaps unfairly, Merkel's image hasn't made that transition, even though, if there is one country that deserves a bit of monetary mothering, it's us. It was once said that if France was the oldest child of the church, Ireland was always the most faithful. The church's failings put paid to that. But we seem to need to be faithful to something, and where the church has declined in our devotions, the euro seems to have gained. As fidelity and sacrifice go hand-in-hand, our sacrifices resulted not only in a remarkable fiscal turnaround, but in the eurozone and, by extension Germany – and Merkel's political position – being stabilised.

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