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What’s Next for Angela Merkel?

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She’ll miss it by lower than two weeks: Angela Merkel in all chance is not going to be the longest-serving German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, the nation’s founding chief.

When Helmut Kohl lastly gave up the keys to the chancellery in 1998, he had spent 5,870 days within the prime job; if Olaf Scholz is sworn in as deliberate in early December, Ms. Merkel will depart workplace simply days behind his document, the second-longest serving chancellor in postwar historical past.

Still, 16 years are a very long time and after spending nearly 1 / 4 of her life within the highest workplace, many are questioning what Ms. Merkel may do subsequent.

Her departure has been a very long time coming — she introduced that she wouldn’t run for re-election three years in the past. Since then the rumor mills have been spinning. Some noticed her accepting a visitor lecturer position at an American college, whereas others hoped she would tackle a senior position on the European Union or one other worldwide establishment.

What was clear from the outset: She wished to depart workplace on her personal phrases, in her personal time. “I want at some point to find the right time to quit politics,” she instructed Herlinde Koelbl, a German photographer, in 1998. “I don’t want to be a half-dead wreck.”

Two years in the past, when she skilled suits of uncontrolled trembling, it appeared as if she wouldn’t make it to the top of her time period. Yet if Ms. Merkel has fallen wanting Bismarck in longevity in workplace, she shared with him the moniker of “iron chancellor” and pulled via.

At 67, Ms. Merkel remains to be younger sufficient to tackle different challenges, however has been characteristically tight-lipped about her retirement plans. When pressed, Ms. Merkel brushed away the concept that she even had the time to consider it, insisting that solely when she was out of workplace would she be capable to start specializing in her subsequent step.

“I think every government day has to be taken equally seriously and always looked at with the same alert eye,” she mentioned. “I believe in governing in the midst of life and as sensibly as possible, and to do so until the last day of my responsibility.”

With that final day drawing ever nearer, she has begun to talk extra freely a couple of want she feels to pause lengthy sufficient to relaxation and ponder what really pursuits her. In an interview given this summer season after receiving an honorary doctorate — her 18th — from Johns Hopkins University, the chancellor gave the primary actual perception into how she envisions her future.

“I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will fall shut because I’m tired, then I’ll sleep a little bit, and then we’ll see,” she mentioned.

But when Parliament authorised a employees of 9 full-time workers for her workplace as former chancellor, many have been fast to level out that it was a formidable quantity for somebody with plans to lie on the sofa studying books.

“I would like in this next phase of life to consider very carefully what do I want to do,” she mentioned in September.

“Do I want to write? Do I want to speak? Do I want to wander around? Do I want to be at home? Do I want to travel the world?” Ms. Merkel mentioned. “For that reason, I have decided that at first I will do nothing, and I will see what happens. I think that is really fascinating.”