Jan 04

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News&English – Angela Merkel’s Year of Living Dangerously

In 2015, Angela Merkel evolved from Germany’s measured voice of reason into Europe’s voice of compassion. Loved and loathed (=hated), the German chancellor heads towards a tumultuous (=busy) 2016.

Read the article by Matthew Karnitschnig in POLITICO along with some key terms explained in red and further expressions marked in green.

Then take our Comprehension Quiz below to test yourself on what you have learned!

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Almost overnight, the German leader went from centrist, consensus-driven politician to divisive figure(=someone who causes disagreement among people), loathed and loved, both at home and abroad. The coming year will show whether Merkel’s 2015 watershed (=big change)— her decision to open German borders to refugees with the rallying cry, “We can do it!” — marked a new beginning for her decade-old chancellorship or, as some have predicted, the beginning of the end. The answer could have profound (=very strong) consequences not just for Germany, but Europe as a whole.

At a time when Europe faces multiple threats to its political and economic cohesion, not to mention its security, it has been Merkel’s (often last-minute) interventions that have kept the bloc from fracturing (=falling apart). Merkel’s critics worry that her solutions address a problem’s symptoms rather than its root causes, a strategy that will simply delay Europe’s reckoning. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to argue that Europe would have survived 2015 intact (=not damaged) were it not for the efforts of the German chancellor. As Greece again teetered on the brink of bankruptcy over the summer, Merkel agreed at the 11th hour to open Germany’s purse for another bailout (=financial support).

This fall, with Europe at loggerheads (=in strong disagreement) over how to confront the refugee crisis, she again stepped into the breach, waving thousands stranded in a sweltering (=extremely hot)  Budapest train station across the German border. She has faced intense criticism across Europe for her decision, but few have considered what it would have meant for the EU if she hadn’t acted. Even as most of the rest of Europe refused to lessen Germany’s burden by accepting more refugees, Merkel has held to her commitment. …

Yet even in Germany, Merkel has eschewed (=given up) grand plans for the country’s future. Germany’s last meaningful economic reforms, which many say laid the foundation for the country’s recent prosperity, carry the signature of Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder. Despite persistent calls from economists to build on those measures, which included overhauls (=changes) of welfare and labor market rules, Merkel has resisted. …

Merkel’s approach to leadership can be summed up as “chronic crisis management,” German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk said in a recent essay to mark her 10th anniversary in office. By allowing problems to simmer (=grow slowly stronger/cook below boiling), in the hopes they will resolve themselves, Merkel has abandoned the opportunity to shape politics, Sloterdijk argued.“She doesn’t act on her own, she reacts,” he wrote. “She is content to wait until the media outcry inflames (=causes) public sentiment to such an extent that (political) intervention is unavoidable.”That wait-and-see approach to problem solving recently entered the German vernacular as a verb: to merkeln. …

You may read the whole article here.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.euenglish.hu/2016/01/newsenglish-angela-merkels-year-of-living-dangerously/

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