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Merkel is stepping back, experts warn the coming ‘storm’ is ‘powerful’



Angela Merkel Donald Trump NATO
Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump attend
the opening ceremony at the 2018 NATO Summit at NATO headquarters
on July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Monday that she’s
    stepping back from politics. 
  • Merkel has been widely viewed as a key global leader in
    recent years, especially as US President Donald Trump and other
    more nationalistic leaders have risen to power. 
  • Experts seem to believe Merkel’s impending departure leaves
    the world without a clear leader. 

It wasn’t long ago that people were dubbing German Chancellor
Angela Merkel as the “leader of the free world” amid President
Donald Trump’s rise to power and a growing embrace of nationalism
across the US and Europe. 

But on Monday Merkel announced that she’s stepping down as leader
of her party and will not seek reelection. 

“I will no longer run for party chair at the next federal
party conference. I will no longer run for Chancellor, nor will I
run for any other political office,”
Merkel said
as her party, the Christian Democratic Union
party, has faced a series of election setbacks. 

Merkel will remain chancellor until 2021, but her announcement
has major implications for the future of Germany, Europe, and key
institutions, experts say.

Merkel has been a key world leader for years 

Merkel has dominated German politics for over a decade and
been one of the most recognized global leaders throughout that

As leaders like Trump have pushed back
against institutions like the NATO alliance, the European Union,
and the United Nations, Merkel has worked to remind people of the
value of global cooperation.

As it became clear that Trump would be a more unilateral
leader after the G7 summit in May 2017, Merkel stepped forward

and said
, “The times in which we could completely depend on
others are, to a certain extent, over. 

experienced that in the last few days.”

She added, “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into
our own hands.”

Indeed, Merkel has never shied away from standing against
Trump, and has made her opposition to his stances on an array of
issues quite clear. 

When Trump pushed for a travel ban against people from
predominately Muslim countries, Merkel decried the move, stating,
“The necessary and decisive battle against terrorism does not in
any way justify putting groups of certain people under general
suspicion — in this case people of Muslim belief or of a certain

“In my opinion, this act runs contrary to the basic
principles of international refugee help and international
cooperation,” Merkel added. 

She has also fought
to save the landmark Paris climate accord
, for example, and
repeatedly stood up to Trump’s criticism of NATO. When Trump
withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, Merkel also did not
withhold criticism, saying the move
“undermines trust in the international order.”

As Trump has moved to distance America from the
international community, Merkel has often worked to hold it
together. In this context, some fear what the world might look
like without her at the forefront of global

‘The coming storm is … quite powerful’

Richard Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign
Relations, on Monday tweeted that with the Merkel era ending, it
leaves the West and post-World War II international order without
a leader.

“The US of ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ has abdicated. The UK is
distracted Canada lacks means. Macron is too weak,” Haas
“Bodes poorly for stability, prosperity,

angela merkel donald trump justin trudeau emmanuel macron
Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump, Canada’s
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and, French President Emmanuel
Macron at the G7 Summit

Neal/Getty Images

With Merkel stepping back, it opens the door for some of
the more nationalistic voices in Europe and elsewhere to shape
the future of these institutions, Heather Conley, director of the
Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies (CSIS), told Business Insider.

“Without a doubt there is a growing global shift away from
consensus, values-based government leadership toward more radical
and nationalistic voices in leadership positions around the
world,” Conley said. “Governmental and international institutions
that were founded and are grounded on values, principles and
norms such as NATO and the EU are not only being profoundly
challenged by these nationalistic voices today, but their future
will be shaped by them.”

These institutions will become more “imperiled” if they’re not
able to “develop successful policy responses to this growing
challenge,” Conley added. 

“Because NATO and the EU were founded after societal norms and
institutions were destroyed in Europe, their foundations are
quite strong – but the coming storm is also quite powerful,”
Conley said. “We hope the foundations will endure.”

Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of the Eurasia Group,
expressed similar sentiments.

With the victory of right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro in
Brazil, Macron’s fledgling approval levels, and Brexit, among
other recent developments, Bremmer
that regardless of what happens in America’s midterm
elections next month, “political momentum in democracies
everywhere is against the establishment.”

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