Professor Joyce Marie Mushaben BOOKtalk


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Professor Joyce Marie Mushaben

Mark D'Arcy in discussion with Professor Joyce Marie Mushaben about her book on Angela Merkel, Madam Chancellor.


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She is the most powerful women in

the world, the Chancellor of

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Germany, since 2005 and a

transformational leader who has had

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a profound impact on the

reunification of her country as well

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as being a dominant player in the

EU, but she is a rather enigmatic

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figure in the UK, but help is at

hand in the form of my guess today,

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the politics and gender studies

professor who book becoming Madame

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Chancellor examines her life and

politics. One of the most

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interesting factors about her is her

background, she grew up not in West

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Germany, but in east Germany, the

Communist East Germany, with the

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very oppressive state surveillance

mechanism and she was the daughter

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of a Lutheran pastor, which would

normally mean she was very much

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under the thumb of the security

services?

She certainly learnt at a

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young age not to talk too much. That

those conversations they could have

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at home, her father was in charge of

what was then perceived as a radical

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theological group were people could

participate. That suggests her

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father had some kind of closer ties

with the Government, I'm not going

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to say he was a secret informer, but

we can assume from his position. She

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has this kind of early childhood

experience of being somehow

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protected and also being somewhat

privileged because she has western

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relatives who can send them food and

clothing packages when things are a

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bit short and she doesn't really

face the kind of persecution that

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pastors's children otherwise have

experienced. It must have been her

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father 's willingness to cooperate

the Church in socialism, they called

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it, that greeted her. But she was

just a very hard worker. She had

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very good grades, her parents

encouraged her. At a certain point,

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you need that expertise,

particularly if you have decided to

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go into physics.

There was a moment

I really blinked at when you were

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going through her early life when

she opts for a Lutheran confirmation

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rather than a state youth dedication

ceremony. I thought that brought

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home how different society in East

Germany was then.

A lot of people

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opted for the state service just

because you could experience

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discrimination. I think this is

because she is the pastor's.. We

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don't get a lot of Merkel the

religious person or Merkel the

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poorest person when we look at her

political behaviour. I see a lot of

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that in her approach to human rights

and freedom of movement. I think

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that was just a very personal

religious experience for her and her

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family. And she does keep up some

kind of connection to a church youth

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group when she goes to the

university, but she is also actively

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involved with the free German youth

because that will ensure that you're

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not going to face discrimination in

the career choices are opportunities

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later on.

So you have to sign up to

bits of the state to ensure it

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doesn't take a dislike to you?

The

east Germans use the word, we have

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arrangement, they went through

certain rituals, engaged in certain

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kinds of behaviours knowing it's

what you had to do to get by. This

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was used against them after

unification when the west said, you

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were collaborating, you were

complicit with communists and all

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the East Germans could do was say,

you did live there, you don't know

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what we had to do in order to make

it through.

Angela Merkel gets out

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from under this quite quickly, it is

quite how rapidly she rose in the

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Christian Democrat party, the CDU,

and around the time of reunification

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she was in there and rising very

rapidly through the ranks in an

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organisation would you are expected

to make your grades and plod through

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different levels of the hierarchy.

Her first step into politics was

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working as deputy press secretary,

but even before that first three and

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last election in East Germany, she

got involved because she knew how to

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complete computers together. All

these West Germans were sending lots

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of money, fax machines and

computers, and she came into an

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office and said, is there anything

you would like me to do? And they

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said, whatever is in that box. She

proved useful and started listening

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to make up her mind what group she

wanted to affiliate with. The spring

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into the Cabinet had to do with him

feeling like he had to have a couple

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of talking Easterners in there,

particularly because the unification

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negotiations had to be completely

dominated by the west and all the

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terms were pretty much dictated by

the west.

One of the other things

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about this is as worthy gender

politics of Angela Merkel Boss rise.

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The parties wanted women to be

visible in the top table, but not

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saying very much.

Seamer but not

heard. Three women were brought into

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the first Cabinet after unification

by dividing up one ministry into

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three separate parts, it is kind of

interesting that Angela Merkel, who

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was the women's minister and

Minister of youth, was not bit in

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charge of the great abortion debate

and the negotiations of that. They

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didn't trust her with that because

abortion had been free and legal in

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East Germany and they passed at an

to another women, a Catholic

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Bavarian. It wasn't free legal in

West Germany? It was not legal, and

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even after unification the Supreme

Court ruling that comes out declared

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abortion illegal at an punishable,

which is a phrase only a German

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could understand.

Quite a circle to

square. What is the expectation of

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women in politics in that era?

We

are already talking about 1989, 19

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90. The SDP and the Greens by that

point had adopted some quarter

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system for themselves, the SDP it

was women had to have 40% of the

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party offices and then they were

attempting to provide at least 40%

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of the candidates on the list on

that proportional representation

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thing. Whereas the Greens did 50-50.

One women, one man, one moment, one

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man. The CDU at the time she entered

had an informal quota which was more

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about wanting one person from each

state, we want one person from the

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most conservative wing of the CDU

and one person from the more liberal

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Catholic wing of the CDU. She came

in as a summation of a number of

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quota interests they had. They

really did not expect her to stay

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and they certainly did not expect to

be with the rest of the team at

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their own political game.

Was there

a sense the men at the top table

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looked at her and saw her as a

product of the quota system and she

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wouldn't go anywhere?

I don't think

they even looked at the quota

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system. They thought he had

appointed her four, he had his own

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reasons, bringing in a feud talking

Easterners, and as soon as she

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started to get a grasp on that first

ministry she was not a feminist, she

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had no background in politics, and

then she started pushing for things

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like rules against sexual harassment

for dividing up the new positions in

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the civil service evenly between men

and women, particularly for the

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unemployed East German women, and

they thought, well, we have to

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promote her upstairs so they moved

her to the environmental Minister

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and brought in someone even younger

than Merkel who was a bonus five

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catholic, which was a very rare

thing in East Germany, who would

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then continue along their preferred

lines of women's policies. She moved

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to the nuclear and environmental

agency, and even there they took

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away some of the major nuclear

reactor safety issues and pick those

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over in the energy ministry run by a

West German Mandy contrast, even

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though she was the physicist.

Despite all the arrivals around her

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and all the whole balls that are put

on her, she very, very rapidly. How

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did she become Chancellor when all

these Bibles are trying to impede

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her and overtake her? -- these

rivals.

She learned by watching and

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not speaking, particularly the

behaviour of all the men surrounding

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her. When it came to the crunch, she

had already moved up into the

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position of CDU general secretary

because coal without due to be

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finance scandal, someone else was I

due to be finance scandal, and a lot

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of other rivals were running into

scandals at the state level, where

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they had their own power bases. At

that point, she went off to Bavaria

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to negotiate to say, even though I

am the general secretary of the

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party and I should by rights be the

Chancellor candidate, why don't you

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run this time and then I'll just be,

the chair in the parliament and then

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I'll be able to run the next time.

So she made it look like it was her

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deal. She really pulled the

tablecloth off from underneath all

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of the dishes, the China that was

still sitting there. She has become

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a tactician, but she did that by

observing people, studying very

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hard, even during the financial

crisis, she is said to have pulled

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two or three or later is to figure

out what was going on.

What's

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fascinating about her rise issue

comes from the outside of the

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system, rises up it remarkably fast.

2005, though she is running for

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Chancellor, becoming the Chancellor

of one of these grand coalitions,

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like a labour Conservative

Government in this country, a quite

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extraordinary combination, but she

had the political skills to do it.

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She had the skills but there was

also a power vacuum because all of

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the other potential rivals are

candidates had kind of eliminated

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themselves from the picture in the

short run and they really thought,

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this is my gut feeling, that they

were putting her in as a kind of

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placeholder, as they did with

others. I don't think they had quite

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the same attitude towards Margaret

Thatcher, but they really thought

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they would just put her in until

they can figure out which real man

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would take over and then she just

proved so popular and so successful

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and was able to negotiate

effectively with the SDP because I

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think she really likes being in the

middle.

She's not an ideologue. In

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her time in power, she doesn't quite

remarkable things. Part of this you

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suggest goes back to her background

and sciences and understanding of

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statistics and numbers. She took a

look at Germany's demographic time

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bomb and said we have to have more

immigration we can't pay the

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pensions. She took a look at the

effects of the nuclear disaster in

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Japan and basically shut down

Germany's nuclear-power industry.

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These were very, very huge decisions

she was prepared to go for in the

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way a lot of politicians have.

There

might be one politician who could

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compete with her at least on one

issue, who also entered politics

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from the side. That means that since

they haven't had that socialisation

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in the party, it is learning by

doing, it is using your own personal

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experiences to try and make rules

for yourself and as an outsider you

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observe and you realise where there

are opportunities that other people

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aren't going to see because they are

intent on climbing the normal party

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ladder. I just think she happened to

be the right person at the right

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time he was very smart and able to

study people in a kind of systematic

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way, and then suddenly she was able

to start putting a lot of the skills

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to work.

For us in Britain, Angela

Merkel has been a fixture on the

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news bulletins occasionally, she's

been running Germany for a very long

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time, she's gone through three

governments, she is trying to pull

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together a fourth now. The question

we asked, she is the big player in

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the EU, but what is her attitude

towards Britain leaving? It is

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slightly after the period of your

book, but how do you think she views

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that event and what did she see as

the opportunities?

I think she is

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deeply saddened by this, especially

for someone who didn't grow up

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internalising the EU, she had to

face east, it was the Soviet Union.

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It took her 3-5 years to figure out,

the EU is not to some sort of trade

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set, it is also a community of

values that you can upload policies

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as well as download policies. She

really came to rely on this triad,

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France, her relationship with France

is not as close as previous German

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chancellors, but she really saw the

need for a Britain, France and

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Germany to balance each other out.

France more in terms of social

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policies, Britain in terms of market

deregulation and things along these

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lines. I think she is very crushed

by this and realises that that

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increases the burden on her to keep

the EU together, plus we are also

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watching the spread of this kind of

petulance, at the Euro phobia and

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Euroscepticism to the new central

east European members. She's going

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to have to play it at both ends.

Does she want a constructive

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relationship does she think

maintaining the EU project is

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punishing Britain?

I don't think she

would say punishing, I think she

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would say there are consequences for

your actions and you cannot pick the

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reasons out of the cinnamon bun, to

use a German metaphor, when you are

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a member, you have rights but you

also have responsibilities. The east

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central east European countries are

also in a dubious position because

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they were more than happy to accept

the subsidies to become members and

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night when it's time for them to

give back by distributing the

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refugees and things along those

lines, she is dealing with both of

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these parties neck who want the

rights but not the responsibilities.

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Is she a fading figure after three

governments trying to pull together

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a fourth she out on the European

stage in particular?

I don't think

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she's the vegan, I think that the

basic problem within her own party

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as party as well as within these

other parties is that they don't

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have a six as a generation, they

don't have a second row of them who

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can rise to the top. And, this has

become very clear, just in this

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debate over the last three or four

weeks. However, that would give her

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a new role in sort of steering her

party and some of its personnel

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policies in the direction that

provides some longer-term stability,

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the EU cannot do without Angela

Merkel, she's the person who has the

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most institutional memory, she has

proven very successful in mastering

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the details of the euro crisis, of

the energy turnaround, that is also

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taken on a new dynamic within the

EU. She is certainly leading the

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charge in terms of value community

and the refugee question so I don't

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see her as being weakened, I see a

lot of journalists trying to figure

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out something new to say about her

because I think they're getting

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tired of always talking about the

right-wing populist AFB, AFB, AFB so

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I think that she has a lot of -- to

give. She made a conscious decision

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to pursue a fourth term and she had

said very early in her career, she

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wasn't going to just hang around

politics until they pushed her out

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the door. She suggested we back in

1992, that woman have many different

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sources of identity and when they

leave politics, they have a lot of

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other things to do whereas a lot of

men feel like that any life is over

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and that's why they hang on a lot

longer than they could possibly be

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contributing to the political

debate.

There are a couple more

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chapters for the next edition

already growing in your mind, thank

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you very much for joining us. We'll

talk will be back again to -- soon,

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join us then.

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