About six weeks ago, Angela Merkel ended her fourth term at the head of the German government. Since then, she has remained very discreet, with rare appearances or public demonstrations. Much has been speculated about what the former German Federal Chancellor’s next projects would be. Now, at least it’s clear what she doesn’t intend to do.
Merkel on Wednesday rejected a job offer offered by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The former German Federal Chancellor “called the UN Secretary-General last week, thanked him and informed him that he would not accept the offer”, Merkel’s publicist said, following a request from the German news agency DPA.
Guterres had offered Merkel the presidency of a high-profile advisory body – the function of this body is to assess and debate global public goods that could serve the entire world population across national borders.
- Angela Merkel: Discover the legacy and trajectory of the woman who led Germany for 16 years
Examples of global public goods are the ozone layer, but also, depending on the definition, internationally applicable regulations such as flight safety regulations and global trade.
On the part of the United Nations, the call between Guterres and Merkel was not seen as a definitive rejection. According to information gathered by the DPA from behind the scenes at the UN, Guterres had also made an offer to Merkel by letter. The Global Public Goods Advisory Council is one of Guterres’ flagship projects in relation to reform at the United Nations.
In his 2021 report on the UN transformation, Guterres wrote, “I will ask a high-level advisory board led by former leaders to identify global public goods and other areas of common interest where improvements in governance are most urgently needed.” . According to Guterres, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed major gaps in international cooperation.
Few public appearances
After 16 years in the German government, Merkel retired from active politics on 8 December last year, when her Social Democrat successor Olaf Scholz took over Germany’s Federal Chancellery. Since then, Merkel has said little. She was seen shopping at a famous gallery in Berlin the week after her term ended, as well as attending a Berlin Philharmonic New Year’s concert with her husband Joachim Sauer.
Angela Merkel: the political trajectory
It is still unclear whether and in what way she might want to voluntarily engage in political projects in the future. Little is known about Merkel’s plans. According to Beate Baumann, who runs the former German Federal Chancellor’s office and has been her confidant for many years, Merkel is planning an autobiography.
“The German Federal Chancellor doesn’t want to recount her entire life. She wants to explain her main political decisions in her own words, and with a look at her life trajectory,” Baumann said in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel in December.
The magazine published that the book will be a joint project of Merkel and Baumann – the two have been working together for almost 30 years. According to Baumann, the book is expected to be released in two to three years – there is still no publisher involved.
Before the end of her fourth and final term, Merkel herself expressed reservations about her future plans. In September, at her hometown Templin’s 750th anniversary celebrations, when asked if she would come more often in the future, she succinctly replied, “Definitely.”
Merkel owns a summer home in the Uckermark region, where the city of Templin is located. It is public knowledge that she enjoys spending days at that residence and tending the garden.
“Maybe I’ll try to read something”
During her farewell visit to the US in July, Merkel said she wanted to take a break from reflection after her tenure and think about “what really interests me”. In the last 16 years, she’s had little time for that. “And maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will close because I’m tired, then I’ll get some sleep and then we’ll see,” she said.
In an interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine in October, Merkel emphasized her desire to enjoy her free time without worry. “Now I’m making sure that I do some things that I was deprived of as chancellor, maybe travel or read a little or just have some leisure with the certainty that in the next 20 minutes nothing revolutionary will happen. I’m excited for this phase,” he said.
Since leaving the German Federal Chancellery, Merkel has worked in an office in a building of the Bundestag (lower house of the German Parliament). When she said goodbye to the conservative faction in December, she announced that she was moving to the office of Helmut Kohl, also a former federal chancellor and considered Merkel’s political mentor.
Merkel will likely make her first public political appearance on February 13. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary group from the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-West Pomerania – Merkel’s constituency – has nominated the former German federal chancellor to the general assembly that will elect Germany’s next president.
However, in all likelihood, the current German president, Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is expected to be confirmed for a second term.
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