Africa Shows Little Interest in Germany’s Election

If German Chancellor Angela Merkel were standing for election in Africa in September, she would have a good chance of winning. But it’s not all praise for Merkel and the German government.

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

If it were up to the Mozambicans who were once contract workers in the former East Germany or “GDR”, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) would win the upcoming elections. Germany goes to the polls on September 22, 2013.

The Mozambican returnees, known as “Madgermanes”, are convinced Merkel strengthened the German economy and successfully steered her country through the turmoil of the financial crisis. “Germany has remained Europe’s largest economy under the Merkel government, even the global financial crisis did not affect it that badly,” says 47-year-old dealer, Arnaldo Mendes, adding: “If I could vote, she would have my vote.”

Other “Madgermanes” who closely follow political events in Germany, view Merkel as the clear favorite. Justine Muetse, a 53 -year-old electrician, told DW he associates Merkel with ” the austerity measures she insisted on for Greece, Portugal and other countries.”

Strong economy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Kenyans while on a visit. Foto: Michael Kappeler dpa/lbn

Germany views Kenya as an important partner

A survey in other African countries conducted by DW correspondents showed most people knew the German chancellor due to her economic policies. “Germany supports most of the ailing EU member states,” said Jared Amba from Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

According to Jared, Merkel has managed to put Germany in the global limelight and anyone who wishes to challenge her candidacy must be strong especially in economic issues.

Mbvume Loweli, also from Kenya, says Merkel tried her best to reduce the pressure on Germany caused by the euro crisis. “Her energy and economic policy is pretty impressive,” Loweli said. But he said Merkel’s foreign policy was not as vibrant as that of Gerhard Schröder who was chancellor from 1998-2005.

“Merkel is mostly focused on creating jobs for Germans,” Loweli added.

Francis Koffi, a retiree from Ivory Coast, said he associates Merkel with great energy. “She is a powerful woman,” Koffi noted. Meite Hamed, a senior administrator from the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan, said her main quality was leadership of a country that is an important European nation.

Little presence in Africa

Not all Africans have such strong opinions of Merkel. “What do I think about her? She is Germany’s leader, that’s all,” Jean Baptiste Kouadio, a radio producer in Ivory Coast told DW in an interview.

According to Professor Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha, a lecturer at the Catholic University in Nairobi, Merkel tried to make Germany more relevant at international level. But she has not done much for Africa. “I have not seen a clear position of the German government with regard to Africa,” Chacha said.

Merkel's austerity measures have been widely criticized in the recipient countries, such as Portugal

Merkel’s austerity measures have been widely criticized in the recipient countries, such as Portugal

Nelly Moraa, a journalist in Nairobi, complained that Merkel was too focused on the European Union. “We hope that Africa gets the same treatment when we need a bailout,” Nelly said. She criticized what she called obstacles such as “passing the threshold of good governance and democracy before being given aid.”

Development aid

Others disagree and praise Merkel for financial aid pledges made. “She visited Kenya in 2011 and​ pledged 17.5 billion Kenya shillings (140 million euros, $185 million) for the social sector,” James Mobat said.

However, most African governments and their citizens don’t seem to care less who Germany’s next leader will be.

Merkel’s main rival, Peer Steinbrück from the opposition party SPD, is relatively unknown in Africa. Emilia Duvane, an interior designer in Maputo says the only thing she knows about him is that he is an opposition candidate. “I am not interested in German politics,” she bluntly said. “I’m more concerned with what’s happening in Mozambique.”

– DW