Angela Merkel’s response to Europe’s refugee crisis has earned the German leader a reputation the world over as a modern-day Jeanne d’Arc, a bold defender of Western ideals against a populist onslaught.
“I have immeasurable respect for Angela Merkel,” former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said during a visit to Berlin this week. “I think she’s an outstanding leader faced with a very difficult set of challenges.”
While that view persists across much of the West, at home, questions about her leadership are growing louder by the day. Beyond the domestic concerns, more and more of Merkel’s erstwhile allies are asking a question still considered sacrilegious among much of Germany’s establishment: Is she tearing Europe apart?
“Dear Angela Merkel, after nearly 13 years as chancellor, the only thing Europe has left for you is animosity,” Malte Pieper, a correspondent of the normally staid German public broadcaster ARD said in a commentary this week that created waves in Berlin. “All the meetings in recent months have illustrated this. Help to finally stop Europe from veering toward division instead of unity! Make room in the chancellery for a successor.”