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Stability seen as key to success of Germany’s Merkel

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WASHINGTON – There is no disputing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among the most powerful politicians in Europe, if not the most powerful.

But the fact that she’s a woman is almost an afterthought for many. Merkel is only the third German chancellor elected to a third term since the end of World War II, and she is widely viewed as the continent’s most effective and stable leader. That’s in part because of her seniority. Merkel won re-election to a third term late last year, at a time when leaders across Europe were being routinely ousted by angry voters.

Merkel has appointed women to at least 30 percent of her country’s ministerial positions, quietly asserting female leadership across Germany’s government.

Mary Hampton, a professor at the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, will discuss Merkel’s unique brand of leadership in a lecture Friday in Albuquerque. Hampton’s talk is part of the Albuquerque International Association’s series analyzing trends in global leadership around the world.

In a Journal interview, Hampton said Merkel isn’t as dynamic or charismatic as many world leaders, including other female heads of state. Germans, still wary from the lessons of Adolf Hitler, seem to like it that way.

“She looks so different from what we would expect from world leaders,” Hampton said. “There is a lot of talk about her not being dynamic. She’s very pragmatic, very methodical and she’s not very charismatic. She’s not very aggressive in her style.”

But she still gets things done.

“She has mastered how to do politics behind the scenes,” Hampton said. “It’s very interesting to me that she is a scientist, a physicist. To me, that means she is very methodical and practical. She doesn’t go out on a limb too often. She doesn’t set herself up to make mistakes or be pushed, if you will, on the issues. In my mind, she is a very stable feature in German politics and the Germans seem to respond to that very well.”

Merkel was the driving force behind stabilizing the European Union’s euro currency and has taken a hard line on austerity measures for fiscally irresponsible countries such as Greece, which she asserted last year should never have been allowed into the EU.

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