17:33 GMT10 July 2020
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    US magazine Forbes has named German Chancellor Angela Merkel the world's most powerful woman for the sixth year running, curiously praising her handling of the Greek bailout and the migrant crisis, which have doomed her chances of re-election in 2017.

    Merkel is facing a split in her CDU/CSU alliance over the migrant crisis and has come in for strong criticism for backing severe austerity measures in Greece — which have caused massive social unrest — in a desperate attempt to prevent Greece crashing out of the euro, which would lead to a loss of confidence in her beloved single currency. 

    Forbes, on the other hand sees the issues through rose-tinted spectacles, based in New York, some 6,381 km from Berlin. It intoned:

    "If there is a single leader able to defy existential economic and political challenges to the European Union, from edges and core, it has been German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her successes on the one hand to convince ailing EU brethren such as Greece and Spain to aspire to German fiscal and legal logic, and on the other hand to persuade Germany's own constituents and political egos to buy in to her solutions, is illustrated by a European Union that in 2016 remains standing."

    ​In fact, the EU is fast falling apart. The migrant crisis has led to the biggest mass movement of people since the Second World War, thanks to Merkel declaring Germany's doors open to refugees in the summer of 2015.

    That in itself exposed the deep flaw in the Schengen area, whose external borders were found to be leaking like a sieve. That, in turn caused country after country to erect razor wire fences and imposed border controls, throwing one of the central tenets of the EU — the freedom of movement of people and goods — into turmoil.

    The crisis weighed heavily on Italy and Greece who bore the brunt of the migrant flight, but efforts by Merkel to persuade her EU colleagues to agree to a mandatory relocation scheme have been met with fierce opposition.

    Unpopular at Home

    At home, there is the worst rift in history between her CDU party and its Bavarian sister organization, the CSU, which is threatening to put up a candidate against her in next year's elections. Her popularity is plummeting as fast as support for the populist right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is growing.

    Meanwhile Forbes says:

    "By opening Germany's borders to over 1 million immigrants from Syria and other Muslim countries in the last several years, Merkel has decided to wield her power with the most curious of geopolitical strategies: sheer humanism."

    That "humanism" view is not shared by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and many NGOs over the deal with Turkey, largely brokered by Merkel, to relocate "irregular migrants" back from Greece to Turkey, whose president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's reputation for upholding of human rights and the fair treatment of refugees, Kurds, opposition parties and journalists leaves much to be desired.

    Nonetheless, Forbes named her the world's most powerful woman and predicts:

    "The next vote for her office takes place in autumn 2017, and polls indicate a weary constituency. Yet winning another term despite low polls is, for Merkel, a proven trait."


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    open border, migrant crisis, humanitarian crisis, refugees, EU-Turkey migrant deal, Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), European Commission, European Parliament, Forbes, European Union, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany, Europe, Turkey
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