Merkel says German politics needs more women; don’t ask about her blazers!


European Council President Charles Michel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and members of the European Council pose for a family photo during a face-to-face EU summit in Brussels, Belgium on October 21 2021. REUTERS / Johanna Geron

BERLIN, October 22 (Reuters) – Angela Merkel has encouraged more women to get involved in German politics as she prepares to step down after 16 years as the country’s first female chancellor, saying she was still too male dominated and had to adapt to the times.

And Merkel, who inspired women around the world as the leader of Europe’s largest economy, showed her typical flair when answering a question about Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s wardrobe that probably wouldn’t have been asked. to a man.

“I don’t donate clothes to museums,” the 67-year-old said when asked if she would donate one of her colorful blazers to a museum. In the high-profile interview, she noted that she had instead donated to used clothing collection points.

Concerns Merkel’s departure could lead to a shortage of women in top political office and accusations of sexual misconduct by media company Axel Springer have sparked a heated debate this week over gender inequality and sexism in Germany.

“We still haven’t succeeded in getting enough women excited about politics,” Merkel said. “In general, more work must be done so that women gain confidence. Because even when there are women, it is not like them to fight for the president of the party, for example.”

Gender parity could become a point of contention when the next government is formed, with the three parties currently in formal coalition talks divided on the issue.

Analysts say sexist attitudes and structural barriers also play a role. During the recent federal election campaign, the Greens candidate for chancellor complained of a sexist examination that held her back.

A rare woman in the upper echelons of her conservative, male-dominated Christian Democrats (CDUs), Merkel has long avoided portraying herself as a feminist. For example, she trailed other politicians in supporting policies pushed by feminists like quotas for women on boards.

Yet in 2018, she publicly pressured the CDU to attract more women to its ranks, or lose its status as one of Germany’s two great popular parties, or “Volksparteien”.

The conservative CDU / CSU bloc scored its worst result in national elections last month, for various reasons.

Merkel, who did not stand for re-election, will most likely be replaced by Olaf Scholz, current vice-chancellor and leader of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who garnered the most votes.

When asked if she could sleep peacefully knowing that an SPD member would be in the chancellery, she replied: “We have political differences, obviously, but I can sleep peacefully.”

She told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that she still didn’t know what she would do when she left office, although she could always find ways to keep busy.

Known as a skilled negotiator, Merkel said she was “deeply concerned” by the European Union’s growing difficulty in continuing to forge compromises amid rising nationalism and a lack of agreement on the objective of the block.

On her handling of the pandemic, the chancellor with a doctorate in quantum chemistry said the scientist in her was at war with the politician. Last year, for example, she wanted to impose a preventative lockdown but had to wait until it was politically feasible as cases increased.

“But this is politics: we need majorities for our decisions.”

Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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