Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, is one of the most powerful women in the world. Since she is also one of the few women leading a country right now, it never hurts to keep track of how she is doing. Last week’s Economist featured Chancellor Merkel in two articles, one an in-depth feature on her leadership on various issues, and one a leader, or brief editorial, about her strength as Chancellor. The Economist seems to think she needs to be more forceful, and push harder for reforms if she wishes to be remembered for anything more than being Germany’s first female chancellor. Readers can of course come to their own conclusions about Ms. Merkel.
Anyone looking for a gendered discussion of the Chancellor in the Economist will be thwarted, for the most part. The articles are refreshing for their generally even-handed treatment of Ms. Merkel as a politician, with little mention of her gender beyond pointing out that she is the first woman to hold her job. Only a few statements might raise eyebrows. One American economist is quoted as saying that Ms. Merkel “does not seem to understand the basics of economic policy,” which is quite the accusation to hurl at the leader of an industrialized Western nation – it is difficult to brush aside the notion that old-fashioned ideas about female politicians’ interests and strengths might influence such statements.
However, the articles also emphasize her popularity and effectiveness at home and abroad. As America continues to await its first female commander-in-chief, there is something reassuring about watching other women show the world what they can do with political power.