Thursday, December 2

Merkel could beat Kohl’s record if there is no government until December 17

Correspondent in Berlin



German children (poor!) Do not get gifts from the Three Wise Men. In return, on December 6, Saint Nicholas of Bari sneaks chestnuts, chocolates and gingerbread cookies into the houses. Only the odd toy if they have behaved extraordinarily well that year. For this reason, when the partners of the future “traffic light coalition” announced that they would have reached an agreement before December 6, the whole of Germany celebrated that this year Saint Nicholas will bring a new chancellor. As they have behaved only regulin, the Germans are still not sure if the government of Social Democrats, Liberals and Greens will be a reward or a punishment, but at least they are happy that the negotiations do not drag on indefinitely and that institutional normality is recovered as soon as possible. There is only one German who would not have cared if the negotiation lasted a few more days, one Angela Merkel.

Merkel remains in office until the new chancellor is sworn in and is on the verge of breaking a record. Up to now Helmut Kohl is the longest-serving German Chancellor in office, which she held for 5,869 days, between October 1, 1982 and October 26, 1998. To overtake Kohl, Merkel would have to endure until December 17, 2021. But if the “traffic lights” comply with the calendar they have given themselves, it will take a few precious days to achieve it. And even she, so oblivious to the slavery of ego and earthly passions, would have liked to be above Kohl, also in this. The relationship between the statesman and his political ward was always ambivalent. He was her mentor, somehow he used her as a share of the East after reunification, when Merkel was a complete stranger, and it must be admitted that he had a good eye. But after learning the intricacies of democratic politics, the young Christian Democrat raised in Communist Germany was precisely the one who gave Kohl the last push, publicly demanding his resignation after the unfortunate scandal of the irregular funds with which the Chancellor of the Unit had greased under table that enormous project of the German Reunification.

Once disgraced, Kohl was never the same again. A domestic accident left him permanently in a wheelchair, barely able to speak and in the care of his second wife, Maike Kohl-Richter, much younger than him, who handles the ex-Chancellor’s meager agenda and documents and diaries at will. German, against the judgment of his entire family. Almost every newspaper in the world keeps an obituary of Helmut Kohl in a drawer, ready only to update when the time comes, while Kohl, despite his precarious situation, sees the coffins of his main biographers pass by his door. In Merkel’s case, retirement is presented with a very different face. Her second husband, Joachim Sauer, is 72 years old and extended his contract as a senior researcher at Humboldt University until 2022. At least until that date, it is very likely that both will stay in Berlin, in the same apartment in which they have lived. during his four legislatures, because Merkel never wanted to move into the residence Chancery officer.

They will surely continue to spend their spring and summer weekends in their little house in Brandenburg, bought in 2005 and surrounded by an orchard of about 50 square meters which Merkel makes a lot of use of, with plants of potatoes, strawberries and vegetables with which she cooks. their famous soups. “I don’t plant cabbage because it needs too much care and it also attracts snails,” he said in his first year of cultivation, a phrase that got countless political readings because cabbage, in German, is Helmut Kohl’s last name.

Merkel turned 67 on July 17 and you will have no financial worries, because his lifestyle is very frugal and because according to the Ministerial Law of the Nation, 71.75% of his salary corresponds to him as a retirement pension, which means that he will have about 15,000 euros per month. Unless you want to underscore his legacy, you won’t need to publish your political memoirs, as Helmut Kohl’s wife did. And unless some domestic accident prevents it, it will be she personally who manages her documentary inheritance, although in these times of mobile phones, any intelligence agency worth its salt has long had all the communications of the German Chancellor at its disposal, as demonstrated the Snowden papers. Even so, it would be very interesting to know his reading of the historical events that passed through his office, especially because Angie, according to her collaborators, has a great sense of humor.

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