Merkel says goodbye to her long-standing constituency of Stralsund
Stralsund (Germany) (AFP)
In 1990, the local politician Wolfhard Molkentin was desperately looking for someone from his CDU party who was to run in the first election of reunified Germany in a constituency on the Baltic coast when someone whispered “Merkel” in his ear.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was completely unknown at the time, won her seat in constituency 267, which also includes the Baltic Sea city of Stralsund and the island of RÃ¼gen, and made her way to the Chancellery.
Even after 16 years of holding the reins of Europe’s largest economy in hand, Merkel “has basically not changed,” Molkentin told the AFP news agency and sat at the table where he once greeted her for coffee and cake.
“She was a very simple, stable and trustworthy person who she still is,” said the eighty-year-old from Merkel, who will step down as Chancellor after the election on Sunday after four consecutive terms.
Merkel will return to her constituency for the last time as Chancellor on Tuesday, together with her future successor Armin Laschet, who urgently needs reinforcements just a few days before the elections.
Georg GÃ¼nther, the CDU candidate there, who is seeking her successor in the constituency, will join the still very popular Chancellor.
GÃ¼nther competed with Merkel’s rival with a haircut in 1990 and was just three years old when she was first elected there.
At a stand where CDU activists grilled sausages, GÃ¼nther admitted that he was following in big footsteps. “I’m proud it’s a good legacy,” said the tax officer.
But while his mentor has given him good advice, he wants to go his own way. “It’s important to be a little independent,” he said.
– ‘Who is Merkel?’ –
In view of the high burden on the national level, Merkel hardly has time to return to Stralsund to see the people who helped found her political career.
Most recently, Molkentin welcomed the Chancellor, who is still sending him birthday cards, in December in his house in Grammendorf.
He delivered her Christmas goose to her every year through 2020, and she invited him to all of her swearing-in ceremonies, as well as a reception with George W. Bush in 2006.
He also has a photo of himself sitting next to the president. “You even lent him your glasses – he forgot them!” Remembers his wife Christa.
In memory of the day he was given the name Merkel as a possible candidate, Molkentin said he replied: “Who is Merkel?”
But after observing the young politician at a meeting with activists, Molkentin was convinced. “I thought, ‘We can do something with her,'” he said.
Merkel was elected as a member of parliament with 48.5 percent of the vote. She was re-elected seven times. For 31 years a plaque with her name proudly stood in front of her office in a picturesque street in Stralsund’s old town.
– fishing brandy –
Hans-Joachim Bull, a former fisherman who lives on the island of RÃ¼gen with its white sandy beaches, has not forgotten his first meeting with Merkel at the age of 36.
He remembers listening patiently as fishermen shared their complaints about European quotas.
âShe never promised us that it would get better. But she told us, ‘I’ll take your problems on board with me,’ âthe 64-year-old recalls.
The dilapidated fisherman’s hut in which the discussion took place no longer stands, but a photo of the then future Chancellor with rosy cheeks from the fisherman’s schnapps.
“She had four or five of them,” recalls Bull, amused.
Â© 2021 AFP