On May 16, 2010 Angela Merkel gave a speech to the national congress of the German Trade Union Federation in Berlin. It was no big news; the Chancellor gives a lot of speeches. But the conclusion of her speech is a good example of the communications corner into which she had manoeuvred herself and the rest of Germany.

She arrived at the congress to talk about a thousand and one points, as always very polite and informative, and ended with the controversial question of retirement at 67. She then uttered a phrase typical of the Chancellor: “I'm here to tell it like it is.”

What she wanted to say is: “With me, there’s no spin.” But her mistake is that it really ought to be someone else who gives that speech to the unions. In the Merkel system, though, it is always just Merkel. Her statement “I'm right here” has an unspoken follow-up: “What more could you want?” These days, she is acting like the most powerful politician in Europe.

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