Angela Merkel has announced she will stand for a fourth term as German chancellor next year. This is not a complete surprise – she has spent a long time pondering this move, as she does with all decisions. But it is still a big risk.
The mood of European voters is angry, and her decision to open Germany’s doors to one million migrants last year has fuelled the rise of the far right which will complicate the formation of a stable government. But she seems to have confidence that German voters will trust her hand on the tiller in an unstable world.
To under why would do that, read our interview with Merkel’s biographer, Matthew Qvortrup, who chronicles her rise from mouse-like research scientist in East Germany to the most powerful politician in Europe.
Fourth terms are dangerous gambles. Margaret Thatcher announced she was going to run for a fourth term, but was forced out by her party before the election. Franklin Roosevelt won a fourth term – the only US president to do so – but died three months after his inauguration.
One of the few certainties is that Vladimir Putin will join her in a fourth term as president of Russia in 2018. So Merkel , if she wins next year, will find herself charged with containing Russian ambitions in Europe to the East, and opposing the illiberal President Trump’s ‘America First’ policies in the West. Not to mention the continuing drama of an increasingly ungovernable Europe.
Alan Philps, Editor, The World Today.