Merkel named world’s ‘second most eloquent leader’

Angela Merkel has once again been praised for her leadership skills - even if her public speaking style doesn't resonate with everyone, according to a new study.

Merkel named world's 'second most eloquent leader'
Merkel at a meeting with other EU leaders in Brussels on July 20th. Photo: DPA

Experts from the UK-based Development Academy spent 12 months analysing the communication and presentation skills of world leaders from 100 hours of footage from press conferences, speeches and other public addresses.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel scored highly, being placed second on the list of ten behind New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

READ ALSO: Merkel 'still most popular politician in Germany'

Both are followed by Narenda Modi, Prime Minister of India and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The full list is available here.

Merkel places second

The Development Academy praised Merkel for her direct, calm, and controlled manner, as well as her ability to project confidence and control, particularly during the coronavirus crisis.

Merkel expresses “confidence and experience at a time that this is in short supply, by keeping gestures to a minimum and her tone of voice even,” they wrote.

Merkel has not always been thought of so highly for her public speaking, however. In 2014, her speeches were profiled as ‘monotone’ by the New Yorker and she is widely known to be unemotional and direct.

Photo: DPA

In fact, her tendency to be measured and methodical and, above all, hesitate before reacting publicly has inspired the word ‘Merkeln’ – a verb that according to the German dictionary publisher Langenscheidt, means ‘ to do nothing, make no decisions, issue no statements’.

Her speeches during the coronavirus crisis have, however, generated widespread praise, with many citing Merkel’s past as a scientist for her clear explanations and grasp of the facts of the public health crisis. 

READ ALSO: Watch Merkel explain delicate challenge of ending lockdown in Germany

Many have cited her once-mocked straightforwardness as crucial in a time of instability and upheaval. 

The German Chancellor’s ability to handle the crisis has been reflected in the polls, with Merkel’s centre-right CDU/CSU bloc enjoying their highest ratings in years of around 32 to 35 percent in late March.

Meanwhile, a new poll on Sunday confirmed that Merkel remains the most popular politician in Germany.

Women lead the way in list despite low representation

Merkel joins other women scoring highly in the Development Academy’s list with five appearing in the top ten (or making up 50 percent), despite only 19 countries out of 193 (9.8 percent) having a female head of state or female government.

“There are some fantastic – and not so fantastic – examples of public speakers from this research,”  said Ben Richardson, Director at Development Academy.

“It’s fascinating that although there are only around 10 percent of women in leadership roles worldwide, female leaders make up 50 percent of the top communicators.”

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How the Greens want to replace Germany’s €9 ticket deal

New proposals drafted by the Green Party have set out plans for two new cheap travel tickets in Germany as well as a shake-up of the country's travel zones. Here's what you need to know.

How the Greens want to replace Germany's €9 ticket deal

What’s going on?

Germany’s €9 travel deal has been hugely popular this summer, with an estimated 30 million or so passengers taking advantage of the offer in June alone. Now the last month of the three-month offer is underway, there are hopes that the ticket could be replaced by another deal that offers simple, affordable travel on a regional or national basis.

There have been a few ideas for this floating around, including a €365 annual ticket and a €69 monthly ticket pitched by German transport operators. Now the Green Party has weighed in with a concept paper setting out plans for two separate travel tickets to replace the €9 ticket. The paper was obtained by ARD Hauptstadtstudio on Friday. 

Why do they want two different tickets?

The first ticket would be a regional one costing just €29 a month and the second would be a €49 that, much like the €9 ticket, would be valid for the whole of Germany.

This would allow people who mainly stay in their local region to opt for the most cost-effective option while long-distance commuters or those who want to travel further afield could opt for the nationwide offer.

Presumably the ticket would once again be valid for local and regional transport only rather than long-distance trains like the ICE. 

To simplify the system even more, the Greens also want to introduce new travel zones for the regional monthly tickets.

READ ALSO: Has Germany’s €9 rail ticket been a success?

How would the travel zones change?

According to the paper, Germany would be divided into eight regional zones that would include the Berlin-Brandenburg area, the eastern German states of Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and the northern states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. 

The zones take passengers “statewide at a minimum”, the paper says, for example in the larger states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North-Rhine Westphalia.

However, as the map below shows, states will also be clustered together to make larger regions.

One of the major draws of the €9 ticket has been the flat-rate system that allows passengers to travel anywhere in the country using the same ticket. This appears to be what the Greens are trying to replicate with their proposals. 

READ ALSO: What happens to Germany’s €9 ticket at the end of August?

How would this be financed? 

As you might expect, the Green Party is placing less eco-friendly forms of transport in the crosshairs as it looks for cash to fund the cheap tickets.

The first way to free up cash would be to end tax breaks for people with company cars. In addition, taxes on CO2 emissions would be increased. 

This would result in “additional revenues for the federal government and the states, which could flow seamlessly into the financing of cheap tickets”, the paper states. 

However, the Greens don’t set out how much money they think this would bring in or how much the discounted tickets would cost the state in total. 

Is this definitely going to happen?

At the moment, it seems that the Greens are the main voices in the coalition government pushing for a longer term travel deal – and they continue to face opposition from the pro-business FDP.

Unfortunately for the Green Party, the FDP happen to be heading up two crucial ministries that could both play a role in blocking a future offer: the Finance Ministry and the Transport Ministry. 

However, with four out of five people saying they want to see a successor to the €9 ticket in autumn, Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) is currently under pressure to come up with a replacement as soon as possible. 

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof

A passenger sits on the platform a Berlin Hauptbahnhof waiting for a train. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Joerg Carstensen

At a press conference a few weeks ago, he promised to discuss this with the state transport ministers after analysing how successful the ticket had been.

In particular, researchers will want to look at how many people ended up leaving the car at home and taking the bus or train instead.

Though the data on this is inconclusive at the moment, some studies have shown reduced congestion on the roads while the ticket was running.

In a survey of The Local’s readers conducted last month, 80 percent of respondents said they had used public transport more with the €9 ticket and 85 percent said they wanted to see a similar deal continue in the autumn.

Of the options on the table so far, a monthly €29 ticket was by far the most popular choice.

READ ALSO: ‘Affordable and simple’: What foreigners in Germany want to see after the €9 ticket