Angela Merkel’s Chancellor Democracy and Leadership in Times of Crisis

  • Başar Şirin
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Complexity book series (SPCOM)


Since the time of the first chancellor of the German Federal Republic, Konrad Adenauer, the term “chancellor democracy” (Kanzlerdemokratie) has been used to describe the unique position of the federal chancellor as head of government in the German political system, with a similar amount of power to that of the president in a presidential democracy. In addition to basic principles such as the major decision-making role in the cabinet, indisputable control over his/her own party, personal prestige in the majority of society, and recognizable delimitation of the opposition, the chancellor’s strong personal involvement in foreign policy is also accepted as an important determinant of the chancellor democracy. From that perspective, while only several German chancellors in history have embodied all of those features together, the current federal chancellor, Angela Merkel, has shown exceptional leadership since she became the chancellor in 2005. In fact, she has even been accused of exceeding her power and exhibiting self-empowerment, especially with her response to the European debt crisis and, more recently, the refugee crisis. On the other hand, both Merkel’s initial “open door” policy (which let about 1 million refugees move to Germany in a short period) and her decision to reach a deal with Turkey to prevent illegal passage from Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea were intensively discussed in German public opinion. Correspondingly, this chapter examines Merkel’s 13 years in office from the chancellor democracy perspective and aims to show that although, during her reign, Merkel successfully took many crucial decisions in times of crisis, her government, her party, and the German public disapproved of her refugee policy. As a result, Merkel’s political power and chancellor democracy were severely damaged and had to come to an end in late 2018.


Angela Merkel Democracy Leadership Crisis 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Başar Şirin
    • 1
  1. 1.Freie UniversitätBerlinGermany

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