Angela Merkel’s very political farewell

For his departure from the Chancellery in 2005, Gerhard Schröder had chosen My Way, by American crooner Frank Sinatra. Sixteen years later, it was a hit by East German punk singer Nina Hagen that Angela Merkel played by the Bundeswehr orchestra on Thursday 2 December for the farewell ceremony which took place in her honor in the great courtyard of the Ministry of Defense, Berlin.

Constitutionally, Angela Merkel is still chancellor. She will not leave her post for good until her successor, Olaf Scholz, is elected by members of the Bundestag. We now know the date of the vote: Wednesday, December 8. The announcement was made on Thursday a few hours before the military ceremony organized for the departure of the woman who led the German government for 5,860 days: nine less than Helmut Kohl (1982-1998), the chancellor who remained the most long in power since the birth of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949.

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Codified under Frederick William III, King of Prussia from 1797 to 1840, the ceremony known as Big tattoo takes place only on rare occasions: when a President of the Republic, a Chancellor, a Minister of Defense, a General or an Admiral leaves office, or to mark an exceptional event, such as the end of the mission of the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, celebrated on October 13 in front of the Reichstag building, the seat of the Chamber of Deputies.

Despite its formal character, this ceremony traditionally organized at nightfall, consisting of a torchlight march, a prayer and musical moments, allows those who receive the honors to put their foot down. What Angela Merkel did not deprive herself of, first during the brief speech she gave on her arrival, then through the airs she chose, and finally by the unexpected little gesture she made before leaving the Ministry of Defense in his big black Audi.

Members of the German armed forces at a farewell ceremony for Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on December 2, 2021.

Look to the future without ‘resentment [ni] pessimism “

The speech, first. In seven minutes, watch in hand, the Chancellor hardly had time to go over the sixteen years in detail. “Rich in events and often very trying” that it has passed into power. “These sixteen years have required a lot of efforts on the political and human level, and at the same time they have filled me”, she said, before referring more specifically to the last two, dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the fourth wave of which is particularly violent in Germany.

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