Skip to main content

What with all the men around the world madly waving their arms, both military and fleshy, for attention, the election of Angela Merkel to a fourth term as Chancellor of Germany is a welcome relief.

Yes, she is somewhat chastened by the result, which saw her conservative bloc receive its lowest-ever support – 33 per cent of the vote, based on preliminary results.

And yes, the country's proportional-representation electoral system means that a right-wing, anti-immigration party that trades in chilling racist and nationalistic rhetoric, and which only got 12.6 per cent of the vote, will hold 94 seats in the Bundestag, the country's 709-seat parliament.

These are worrying trends, no question. Ms. Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union now have to build a coalition with parties they haven't worked with in the past. Their old allies in the Social Democratic Party, who fell to 20.5 per cent of the vote, have vowed to serve as the opposition, to prevent the demagogues in the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party from taking that role.

But in spite of these setbacks, the bottom line is that Europe's economic powerhouse has opted for stability over the disruption that has plagued Western politics for the past few years.

Look at what Germans have been dealing with: the pointless Brexit decision in the United Kingdom; the Syrian migrant crisis, which has brought one million refugees to their country since 2015; the rise of the divisive and unreliable Donald Trump in the United States; the reckless adventurism of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine; and the betrayal of liberal democratic values in Turkey by the country's newly minted dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Surrounded by turmoil, Germans have put their faith in a research scientist who was raised behind the barbed wire of Eastern Germany. That the compassionate and sensible Ms. Merkel has lost some support in these tumultuous times is not surprising; that Germany has seen its own rise of right-wing opportunists is completely of a piece with the world today.

What matters is that Ms. Merkel, unlike too many politicians in other countries, was able to convince a majority to vote for stability and common decency, rather than abandon themselves to the hateful rhetoric of division.

Germans call her "Mutti" – mother. We need more like her, and fewer of the so-called men who seem intent on making the world more dangerous.