Merkel named world’s ‘second most eloquent leader’

Angela Merkel has once again been praised for her leadership skills - even if her public speaking style doesn't resonate with everyone, according to a new study.

Merkel named world's 'second most eloquent leader'
Merkel at a meeting with other EU leaders in Brussels on July 20th. Photo: DPA

Experts from the UK-based Development Academy spent 12 months analysing the communication and presentation skills of world leaders from 100 hours of footage from press conferences, speeches and other public addresses.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel scored highly, being placed second on the list of ten behind New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

READ ALSO: Merkel 'still most popular politician in Germany'

Both are followed by Narenda Modi, Prime Minister of India and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The full list is available here.

Merkel places second

The Development Academy praised Merkel for her direct, calm, and controlled manner, as well as her ability to project confidence and control, particularly during the coronavirus crisis.

Merkel expresses “confidence and experience at a time that this is in short supply, by keeping gestures to a minimum and her tone of voice even,” they wrote.

Merkel has not always been thought of so highly for her public speaking, however. In 2014, her speeches were profiled as ‘monotone’ by the New Yorker and she is widely known to be unemotional and direct.

Photo: DPA

In fact, her tendency to be measured and methodical and, above all, hesitate before reacting publicly has inspired the word ‘Merkeln’ – a verb that according to the German dictionary publisher Langenscheidt, means ‘ to do nothing, make no decisions, issue no statements’.

Her speeches during the coronavirus crisis have, however, generated widespread praise, with many citing Merkel’s past as a scientist for her clear explanations and grasp of the facts of the public health crisis. 

READ ALSO: Watch Merkel explain delicate challenge of ending lockdown in Germany

Many have cited her once-mocked straightforwardness as crucial in a time of instability and upheaval. 

The German Chancellor’s ability to handle the crisis has been reflected in the polls, with Merkel’s centre-right CDU/CSU bloc enjoying their highest ratings in years of around 32 to 35 percent in late March.

Meanwhile, a new poll on Sunday confirmed that Merkel remains the most popular politician in Germany.

Women lead the way in list despite low representation

Merkel joins other women scoring highly in the Development Academy’s list with five appearing in the top ten (or making up 50 percent), despite only 19 countries out of 193 (9.8 percent) having a female head of state or female government.

“There are some fantastic – and not so fantastic – examples of public speakers from this research,”  said Ben Richardson, Director at Development Academy.

“It’s fascinating that although there are only around 10 percent of women in leadership roles worldwide, female leaders make up 50 percent of the top communicators.”

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German parliament to hold urgent debate on citizenship

Politicians will gather in the Bundestag on Thursday afternoon for an urgent session on Germany's planned changes to citizenship law.

German parliament to hold urgent debate on citizenship

According to information on the Bundestag website, the urgent discussion was scheduled on the request of the opposition CDU party, who have been fiercely critical of the planned reforms in recent days.

The debate, which is scheduled to start at 2:50pm and last an hour, will see MPs air their views on the government’s planned changes to citizenship law.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is currently in the process of drafting a bill that will simplify and speed up the naturalisation process in Germany, which she said this week is “as good as done”.  

The law will end a ban on dual nationality for non-EU citizens, meaning people from places like India, the USA and the UK can naturalise as Germans without losing their current citizenship – or citizenships. 

It also foresees a dramatic reduction in the amount of time it takes to become eligible for German citizenship.

In future, people would be able to naturalise after five years of residence in the country rather than the current eight, while people who speak good German or fulfil other integration criteria could naturalise after three years rather than six.

Additionally, the Interior Ministry wants to grant automatic German citizenship to the children of foreign parents – provided their parents have been in the country at least five years – and remove language requirements for members of the guest-worker generation who want to become German. 


‘We don’t need reform’

High-profile politicians from the CDU have slammed the government’s plans to ease citizenship rules, with parliamentary leader Thorsten Frei describing the move as an attempt to “sell-off” German passports as a “junk commodity”.

“We don’t need reform,” Frei told public broadcaster ZDF. “There would no majority whatsoever in any party’s supporters for this change.”

Earlier this week, CDU leader Friedrich Merz had argued that expediting the naturalisation process would damage integration and allow people to immigrate into the benefits system more easily. 

“The CDU will not close its mind to a further modernisation of immigration law and the citizenship law of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Merz told a meeting of CDU and CSU MPs in Berlin on Tuesday.

“However, we also attach importance to the fact that the granting of citizenship takes place at the end of an integration process and not at the beginning of it.” 

The CDU and CSU have previously been vocal opponents of permitting dual nationality, arguing that holding more than one citizenship would prevent people from fully integrating into German life. 

Nevertheless, it remains unclear if the opposition will be able to block the legislation in any meaningful way.

If there aren’t any substantial changes to the core of the citizenship bill when the amendments are made, the Interior Ministry believes it won’t need to be put to a vote in the Bundesrat – the upper house where the CDU and CSU hold a majority.

Instead, the parties of the traffic-light coalition – the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) – would simply be able to vote it through in the Bundestag. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Could Germany’s conservatives block dual citizenship?