Germany’s beloved ‘Mutti’ Angela Merkel, Chancellor since 2005, has done it again.
Europe’s very own mother figure has affirmed her position as the continent’s strongest leader, winning the 2013 German general election by landslide; her party CDU claiming 41.5 percent of the vote.
Not only does Merkel seem to be one of very few European leaders with a strong enough economic sense to keep her country afloat in the current euro crisis but she’s also carrying the entire European Union.
In recognition of her influences, Forbes has ranked Merkel as the world’s second most powerful person, which is the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman.
As I congratulate Germany on Merkel’s victory, I can’t help but feel a little sad that Iceland’s mother figure, former Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir—the country’s first female PM, has left the political stage.
The two state leaders met in 2009 and in the picture they seem to have a kindred spirit.
Jóhanna is no Merkel yet under her lead the government of Iceland managed to drag the country out of the crisis that hit in 2008 and turn the economic situation around.
Mistakes were made too—which is why voters lost faith in the government—but that’s nothing compared to the mistakes the current government has already made.
Jóhanna may have been old and gray but she appeared to have sense, a strong vision and to truly care for her countrymen, which is more than I can say about the wild boys now ruling the cabinet.
Taxes and tariffs on the highest earners have been cut, worsening the deficit of the state treasury, while further cutbacks to public services have been announced.
In cutting off accession talks with the EU, a number of grants to various Icelandic institutions have been canceled.
Promises to aid indebted homeowners have not yet been kept and in any case, the measures to that end as outlined by the government seem highly risky and not likely to help the economy—or homeowners—in the long run.
If you don’t fix the country’s very flawed financial system with the shaky króna currency, inflation will continue to rage, making sure to raise the capital of indexed mortgages as soon as they’ve been written down.
And the new government will make mother nature suffer.
In shutting down the Ministry for the Environment and making the minister for fisheries and agriculture responsible for environmental issues too, the new government is effectively annulling all progress on environmental affairs made by the previous government.
Laws that have already been passed by Alþingi, the country’s legislative assembly, are not even safe from the executive’s long arm.
While I’m not suggesting that Jóhanna should return to politics—I was actually quite happy to see her as an activist, demonstrating for the rights of LGBT people—I find that Iceland desperately needs a new sound and stable leader.
Who might that be?
Jóhanna’s successor as chair of the Social Democrats, former minister of economic affairs Árni Páll Árnason, has not lived up to expectations.
However, I see a strong leader in Katrín Jakobsdóttir, former minister of education and culture, the new chair of the Left-Green Movement.
In the last election, she managed to salvage her party’s image and I believe her political career is just taking off. So watch out for Katrín, who with time may prove material for Iceland’s very own ‘Mutti.’
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – email@example.com