Corona times are times when comparing countries. And in these comparisons, Germany, with its relatively low number of corona deaths, despite all the mistakes and inconsistencies in the small, does well worldwide. And Angela Merkel is becoming a kind of savior of the corona crisis. “If you can say about any country in Europe that it has had a good corona crisis so far, it is Germany,” says the British magazine “The Economist”. The successes in fighting the crisis are undeniable.
The success factors that are identified abroad: The Chancellor with her scientific meticulousness and empathetic leadership. The powerful German healthcare system and the high intensity of corona tests in international comparison. The social system and short-time work benefits have also become a model for many.
The broad industrial company base is perceived as the country’s strength. Federalism is also one of the country’s strengths, at least when viewed from abroad, because the decentralized structures would have led to quick action. The only point of criticism, especially in southern Europe: Germany lacks European solidarity.
“The Atlantic” praises the Chancellor as calmly, analytically and yet not emotionlessly preparing the Germans for the dangers. With a “blood-sweat-and-tear-speech” she had left the whole country behind and silenced the internal opponents.
Merkel as a savior
Even Trump, U.S. President Donald Trump, who didn’t even want to shake hands three years ago, has become remarkably silent when it comes to criticizing Germany. Merkel is addressing “the brain of a scientist and the heart of a pastor’s daughter” to the population, says political professor Timothy Garton Ash in the British “Guardian”.
In Japan, Merkel’s leadership style is also seen as empathetic, in contrast to that of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose popularity is declining. The Chancellor not only gave good speeches, but also delivered results, said Yukio Noguchi, a consultant at Waseda University’s Corporate Finance Research Center, in a column in the Money Gendai business publication.
Abe, on the other hand, had promised just two protective masks to every household as part of his rescue package, an action that even ultra-conservative fellow travelers were upset about. He is completely indifferent to people’s fears – especially when compared to Merkel, says Noguchi. On April 12, he even put a video online, titled: “I can relax at home with my dog.”
Japanese media also praise the flexibility of business and administration to quickly switch to home office work. In Japan, many companies are not really able to switch to telework on a large scale.
Stoic calm as a trademark.
In Canada, the media praised Merkel’s “trademark phlegmatic style” – “the stoic calm that is her trademark”. The “Globe” comments: “A large number of Germans breathed a sigh of relief that Ms. Merkel is still responsible.”
The chancellor, who studied physics and quantum chemistry, tackled the problems with the “cool and judgmental eye” of a scientist. The fact that she is now warning against lifting the restrictions too quickly and her warning to proceed slowly and with caution is also recorded in Canada.
The densely populated Germany, surrounded by countries with rapidly increasing death rates, should have experienced a catastrophic crisis, judges the “Financial Post”. “But science-based politics has helped steer the crisis better than most.” The newspaper also appreciates the high number of Covid tests that are carried out in Germany.
In Italy, the Chancellor’s press conference, in which she explained the spread of the corona virus in three sentences, was given English subtitles, becoming a click favorite on social media. In the Italian vocabulary there is now the verb “Merkeln” and it is not meant negatively.
In Austria, the media praised Merkel’s speech in the Bundestag this week with her statement “This pandemic is a democratic imposition” on the decision to restrict freedom rights in Germany.
Commentators miss this attitude among the black and green government in Austria under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP). “While Merkel speaks almost apologetically, the government appearances in Austria remind of teachers who teach the people the rules, but which should not be questioned,” criticized the newspaper “Die Presse”.
The German model student
The Italian commentator Emiliano Fittipaldi sums up Germany’s standing in a nutshell: “When dealing with the corona crisis, our German cousins trumped us. They have shown a better organization of the medical emergency, they have a political leadership who is nationally and regionally competent and they have a functioning chain of command ”- all that Italy is missing.
Mexico sees Germany as a prime example of fighting pandemics. The Mexican Vice Minister of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, repeatedly emphasizes Germany and in particular the Robert Koch Institute when he talks about an exemplary fight against the virus. He even reports in his tweets that he asked the RKI about quick tests and how to do them in Germany.
Germany is also considered a model Corona pupil in Great Britain, which the government should emulate. The approaches of the two countries and the death statistics are compared directly in newspapers and television programs. The result worries Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government. If you want to appeal to a British minister, all you have to do is mention the Germans, the Financial Times noted.
British Health Minister Matt Hancock
Johnson’s medical advisor Chris Whitty admits that one can learn from Germany especially by mass testing. Health minister Matt Hancock recently stated jealously that his colleague Jens Spahn could call hundreds of laboratories to have samples tested because the German pharmaceutical industry was so strong.
He was immediately informed that Germany’s political system was also superior. The decentralization of the Federal Republic had proven to be an advantage in the crisis, commented the “Guardian”.
Germany has more tests, more intensive care beds, more ventilators – and significantly fewer deaths. Tony Blair’s former spokesman Alastair Campbell said on Twitter: “You hit us again.”
The fact that Germany is now loosening the exit restrictions is astonishing in Great Britain. Some see it as evidence that Germany has the pandemic under control. Because of the testing, the federal government “has a better picture of what is happening, so they can now open up a bit,” said BBC editor Gabriel Gatehouse on the “Newsnight” program.
Others, however, are wondering why the otherwise level-headed Germans act so hastily. Germany succumbed to the “curse of the winner”, commented “Daily Telegraph” columnist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. The low death toll created a “deceptive feeling of security”. However, this increases the risk of a second wave.
In Russia, the discipline of the Germans regarding the restrictions to contain the virus in the media is presented as exemplary. The first opening of shops this week caused a wow effect when the Berlin correspondent of the state broadcaster “Rossija-1” was switched on from a shoe store to the talk show “60 Minuten” by the Duma MP Pyotr Tolstoy. He explained to the studio guests that Germany could afford to loosen the hard insulation measures step by step due to the now low number of infections.
Old stereotypes falter in France
In France, the image of Germany in the Covid 19 crisis is changing as strongly as it has been for a long time. Before the epidemic, the Federal Republic was considered by many to be a country that was economically successful, but also thanks to its high export surpluses, low wages and precarious working conditions as well as significantly poorer social protection than in France. For weeks now, the French have been comparing the numbers of those infected and those who died from the coronavirus and have found that things are looking much better in the Federal Republic, at least so far.
“Germany gets along much better with the corona virus than France,” wrote Laurent Joffrin, editor-in-chief of the left-liberal daily Libération. The reasons for this would overthrow old prejudices: “In France we often fool or praise German discipline, but our neighbor has by no means imposed as stringent exit restrictions as we have … which is particularly bad for our leftists because of its” ordoliberalism ” Germany has better equipped its health care system than we have. ”
The neighbors, who are cried for budgetary severity, have also provided around a trillion euros in one fell swoop to support the economy. “Our supposed certainties are shaken,” concludes Joffrin.
French President Emmanuel Macron
Similar things can be read in the left-liberal “Le Monde” or in the conservative “Le Figaro”. It is not the case that a special enthusiasm for Germany has broken out. But you look closely and in great detail, sometimes on several pages, to see what your neighbor is doing differently. The French pay tribute not only to the German health care system, but also to federalism, which responded quickly to local conditions, and the strength of German industry.
“Short-time work benefits” and “statutory health insurance” are also discussed extensively in the US media, where the number of unemployed rose by 27 million within five weeks – and many people automatically lost their health insurance as a result.
The German model is even shown to be superior in Silicon Valley today: “Germany decided at some point to recruit talent, give them training and jobs,” says Salman Ullah, co-founder and managing director at Merus Capital in Palo Alto, the Handelsblatt.
“The short-time working system works, people are not afraid to lose their health insurance, the overall stress level in the population is significantly lower than in the USA. This state substructure is now showing its full strength in the crisis, ”analyzes Ullah, who has already invested in five German startups.
Criticism from Italy and Greece
Germany’s image is not always so positive at the moment: lurid anti-German headlines and Nazi cartoons appear almost every day in the right-wing media in Italy. Berlin has traditionally been the scapegoat in the discussion about reducing Italy’s high debts and in appealing for more budget discipline.
This is the case again in the discussion about the introduction of corona bonds. The old stereotypes of the frugal north, which insists on the rules, and the spending-friendly south, which wants its debts to be financed by the other partners, are coming up again.
“Nobody has to act as the best in class,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte with regard to Berlin and criticized the German trade surplus. However, no aid was reported from Germany.
After all, seven tons of relief supplies were delivered and the Air Force flew 43 seriously ill Corona people to Germany for treatment and paid for the treatment. The right-wing national Lega in particular is fueling resentment. “When it comes to Germany, the memory is often short and the analysis, more often, rough,” comments “la Repubblica”.
In Greece, the media are very concerned about European crisis financing. “The pandemic is reviving the north-south division in Europe,” comments the newspaper “Kathimerini”. Above all, Germany’s refusal to support the less creditworthy southern states such as Greece with jointly issued euro bonds is causing bad blood – a topic that sparked discord between Athens and Berlin even during the Greek debt crisis.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Left-wing politician Alexis Tsipras, the former prime minister and current opposition leader, falls back into his old role and accuses Merkel of wanting to miss out on a savings corset across Europe in the Corona crisis. But the image of Germany in the Greek public is now more differentiated. How the violent political upheavals of the crisis years in the face of the corona threat have given way to a reflection on what is really important.
While the Netherlands is seen as the biggest brake on the euro or corona bonds, Merkel can collect points if, for example, she now promises solidarity in the corona crisis to Germany’s European partners in a union conference. This was recognized in the Greek Gazettes.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has been in office since last July, is also not interested in making the issue of joint debt raising a sticking point. Mitsotakis is happy to leave the role of spokesman to his Italian colleague Giuseppe Conti on this question.
Mitsotakis needs Merkel’s support in the increasingly tense relationship with Turkey and in migration policy. Germany was able to win sympathy with the admission of refugee children from the Greek slum camps.
The topic is also being discussed differently in France. The left in particular accuses the Federal Republic of reacting too hesitantly. For reasons of selfishness or due to improper consideration for the AfD, the German government is shy of Eurobonds or other forms of appropriate solidarity with countries like Spain and Italy that are badly affected by the crisis.
But Yves Bertoncini, President of the European Movement France, opposes this: In a multi-page paper, he shows that solidarity cannot be measured solely by the approval or rejection of Eurobonds. Germany has shown solidarity in the EU for decades and has financed more than a hundred billion euros in transfers through the EU budget.
More: Although the consequences for the economy are dramatic, the UK does not loosen the lockdown. Steps in Germany are observed in part in disbelief and in part with envy.