After 16 years of grueling EU summits, late coalition negotiations and back-to-back conference calls with heads of state, Angela Merkel has vowed to spend the foreseeable future slipping on her flat black shoes and reading a few good books.
But new details of a new office in central Berlin and veiled hints in interviews suggest the world may not have seen the last outgoing German Chancellor yet.
The new German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, will be sworn in at the presidential palace in Bellevue at noon on Wednesday, after which Merkel “will retire from politics” and “will not attend any meetings for several months”, her spokesman for longtime Steffen Seibert said last Friday.
In a video conference with parliamentarians from her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on Tuesday, the outgoing chancellor reportedly said she would remain available for questions but would not give any advice in public.
Merkel rejected suggestions that she could don a white coat and return to scientific research with her husband, quantum chemist Joachim, who recently extended his contract as a senior researcher at Humboldt University in Berlin until 2022. .
“I see myself talking regularly about the link between our prosperity, research and innovation – but I’m sure I won’t be doing any scientific work,” she told Reuters last month.
Since entering politics in reunified Germany in 1990, she had barely had a minute to think about what might interest her next, the Chancellor said during an event in September with Nigerian writer Chimamanda. Ngozi Adichie.
“I want to think very carefully in the next phase of my life about what is surfacing in me,” Merkel said. “Do I want to write, talk, hike, do I want to be home, do I want to travel the world?” “
A move to her hometown of Hamburg, where the Chancellor reportedly bought property in the affluent suburb of Blankenese, was called off during the election campaign in September, where she assured citizens of northeastern Germany that Berlin and the state of Brandenburg would remain the center of his life.
She certainly wouldn’t accept “the first invitation just because I’m afraid of doing nothing,” Merkel said as she accepted an honorary degree at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in July.
Doing nothing doesn’t seem like a realistic prospect, at least that’s what a document his office submitted to a Bundestag committee last month would suggest.
According to the official request which was later leaked to the German press, Merkel requested that her future office on Unter den Linden Boulevard in Berlin be staffed with nine employees, including two office managers, two specialist assistants, three employees and two drivers. .
By comparison, his predecessor, Gerhard SchrÃ¶der, worked in an office with seven employees after losing to Merkel in 2005. SchrÃ¶der, of course, was quick to leave a stain on his political legacy by accepting a job with the company. Russian Nord Stream pipeline, just months after leaving the Chancellery.
His predecessor, Helmut Kohl, whose former offices Merkel will take over, used his retirement from politics to create a company offering lucrative strategic advice and lobbying services.
Germany’s first female chancellor would find the revolving door between politics and business at least temporarily blocked: a law passed in 2015 bans high political office holders from going directly to lobbying for at least a year and up to 18 months.
After catching up on reading during her self-imposed break, Merkel may find herself drawing inspiration from a novel published this spring. David Safier’s detective story Miss Merkel imagines the Chancellor retreating to her dacha in the Uckermark district of Brandenburg in the northeast of the country, but quickly becomes bored and investigates unsolved murders instead .