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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Germany labels Saxony branch of far-right AfD as extremist

Germany's domestic intelligence agency said Friday that it had classified a state branch of the far-right AfD party as a "confirmed" extremist organisation, citing its efforts to undermine democracy and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Germany labels Saxony branch of far-right AfD as extremist

The chapter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the eastern state of Saxony is the third local branch of the party to be given the label, after those in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.

The classification gives intelligence services extra powers to monitor the groups, lowering the barriers for intercepting telephone calls and using undercover agents.

The move comes as the AfD is surging in popularity in Europe’s most populous country, tapping into concerns over rising migration, high inflation and a stumbling economy.

Announcing the latest move, Saxony state’s intelligence chief Dirk-Martin Christian said it had been “proven beyond doubt that the AfD state organisation is pursuing anti-constitutional goals”.

The agency, which monitored the local chapter for four years, accused senior members of making “right-wing extremist statements”.

When it came to immigration, the party’s approach would lead to migrants and ethnic minorities being disparaged, and was in breach of the German constitution, the agency said.

READ ALSO: Germany steps up surveillance of far-right AfD party branch

This “racist” attitude has its roots in Nazi ideology, it said. The Saxony AfD branch also has an anti-Semitic stance, the agency said.

The agency further said the local chapter was seeking to undermine Germany’s “basic political order”, using terms such as “dictatorship” to refer to the government.

AfD Saxony’s aim was “to fundamentally shake the population’s trust in the constitutional order and functioning of our democracy and to force protests and resistance,” Christian said.

The AfD leader in Saxony, Joerg Urban, said the agency’s decision “lacks any basis in fact” and was politically motivated ahead of local elections in the state in September.

The AfD is leading in opinion polls in the state. It is also ahead in the eastern regions of Thuringia and Brandenburg, which hold elections the same month.

Created in 2013 as an anti-euro outfit before seizing on anger over mass migration to Germany, the AfD has recently had a string of successes.

In October, the party made gains in two key state elections, and has notched up other victories in smaller local votes.