Monday, 29 May 2017

Angela Merkel (LII): Personality Type Analysis

Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German physicist, research scientist and politician who has been serving as the Chancellor (i.e. equivalent to prime minister) of Germany since 1998. She is not only the first woman in that position, but also the youngest when sworn in, as well as the only one with a background in natural sciences.

She was born in 1954 in Hamburg, in what was then West Germany. Soon afterwards her family moved to what was then East Germany so that her father, a Lutheran pastor, could take a position in Perleberg, to the north of Berlin. Therefore, she grew up under East Germany's Soviet-aligned communist regime. Always a very good student - among other things she learned to speak Russian fluently - she studied Physics in the University of Leipzig. Like every young East German who wanted to have a chance of being allowed to go to university, she joined the official youth organisation FDJ (Free German Youth) which led to some minor controversy later, although by all accounts she joined it because she had to, not because of any ideological conviction. Interestingly, she declined a position she sought as a lecturer of engineering as she was informed she would have to report on her colleagues to the Stasi, the secret police, giving as excuse that she was unable to keep secrets. She then became a graduate student at the prestigious Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof, completing a doctorate with a thesis in the field of quantum chemistry, and she then continued to work there as a research scientist after 1978. Her life was then relatively uneventful until 1989, the year when Europe's communist regimes collapsed and the Berlin Wall was first opened. Following the fall of the East German dictatorship, Merkel decided to join one of the newly-formed political parties, the DA (Democratic Awakening). She was described there as quiet in meetings, mostly not speaking, and helping with technical matters, like installing PCs. When the DA was hit by controversy - that one of their leaders had worked as a Stasi informer -  Merkel volunteered to be the one to deal with the press, becoming noted for her unflappable demeanour, calmly and knowledgeably answering journalists' questions. She attracted the attention of Lothar de Maizière, the head of the only democratically elected government of East Germany in the brief transition period before the reunification, who made her the deputy spokesperson of his government. She then joined the CDU - West Germany's party in government, with which the DA merged - and ran successfully for a parliamentary seat in the first elections of the unified Germany in 1990. The CDU chancellor, Helmut Kohl, who had noticed Merkel previously, immediately appointed her Minister for Women and Youth in his cabinet - a very junior position. Kohl promoted her later to Minister for the Enviroment in 1994. The chancellor clearly appointed her largely because he needed eastern Germans in his government, and as his protegee and the youngest minister, Kohl somewhat patronisingly referred to her as "my girl".

The above already provides some information for Angela Merkel's Socionics type. What first brought her into political visibility is a trait that is very clear to this day, her unflappability when answering complex questions in public, in a very non-emotional, calm, analytical and knowledgeable manner. She has nothing of the more 'inspirational' kind of politicians like Barack Obama (IEI), Bill Clinton (EIE), etc. Her 'charisma' - if it can be called that - stems from her self-confidence in her ability to understand issues and to answer questions in a logical and convincing way. That, and, her 'behind the scenes' low-profile stance in her early days of the DA, when she was almost unnoticed until being the the only one to volunteer to talk to the press in a crisis - already point very clearly to a person of very low E, and hints to low F as well, and of much greater confidence in her understanding of issues and ability to explain them clearly, logically and consistency (L and P). That already points to a Logical rather than Ethical type.

The CDU lost the elections of 1998, leading to Helmut Kohl being succeeded by the SPD's Gerhard Schröder as chancellor; Merkel however retained her seat, and became the secretary-general of the CDU, reporting to the new CDU leader, Wolfgang Schäuble. However, in 1999 the CDU was shaken by a scandal when it was disclosed that it had financed its electoral campaigns via several illegal means. That scandal hit several of the CDU's senior figures, including Schäuble and Helmut Kohl himself, while leaving Merkel untouched. She swiftly placed 'principle' above 'loyalty', publicly criticising, and distancing herself from, the party leaders involved in the scandal, including her former mentor Helmut Kohl, who saw it as a betrayal. With more senior party leaders out of the way, Angela Merkel became CDU leader, which also meant leader of the opposition. With the failure of Gerhard Schröder's SPD to maintain its majority in 2005, Angela Merkel emerged as the new German Chancellor, in a government of a "Grand Coalition" of the CDU and SPD.

Interestingly, although she had become CDU leader in 2000, she was not the CDU candidate for chancellor in the 2002 elections; rather it was Edmund Stoiber, the charismatic premier of Bavaria, who however lost the election to Schröder in 2002, leaving the path finally open to Merkel. Stoiber, the leader of the CDU's sister party CSU, had likewise been unaffected by the CDU scandals, and it is revealing that Merkel's rise seemed to depend far more on the self-destruction of her rivals than on her own drive for power (in a career path parallel to that of François Hollande (SEI) ).

As already mentioned, Merkel made a point of publicly condemning those involved in the CDU scandals, not sparing those to whom she owed personal loyalty, especially Helmut Kohl and Wolfgang Schäuble - some could unkindly say that she "threw them under the bus". This is an interesting contrast to politicians who value personal loyalty above all, like Jacques Chirac (SEE), yet the other evidence shown above does not point to Merkel being a ruthless power-seeker who stabs her former mentors in the back for the sake of her own personal advancement. Rather, it points to a person who devalues R as well as having low focus on F, with her placing abstract principles and concepts L, and/or pragmatism P, above R. Merkel's approach to R is best illustrated by her nearly identical answers in separate interviews, when she was asked about the status of her relationships with her former mentor Helmut Kohl, her former party leader Wolfgang Schäuble, and her defeated predecessor as chancellor, Gerhard Schröder - all by then in one form or the other in political oblivion, while she had risen to the top. On those occasions, Merkel's answer was a variation of (paraphrasing): "status of the relationship? What do you mean? Well we do talk. Sometimes" or in Kohl's case,  a very matter-of fact answer: no, they were not in contact.

Almost any other politician in her position, I daresay, would either have given more 'political', positive, socially acceptable answers, or 'passionate' ones (E), or elaborated in more detail in each specific case (R), or perhaps even, aware that she was in a position of immense power while her former rivals were in oblivion, shown either glee or mercy (which would be related to awareness of F). Merkel's answers - which were seen as odd by journalists - show again weak F, E and R, but R rather as something she feels the need to pay at least lip service to, pointing to R3.

Angela Merkel has been married (for the second time) since 1998 to Joachim Sauer, a chemistry professor in Berlin of some reputation in the field of heterogeneous catalysts. He keeps an extremely low public profile and they both prefer to live in their own apartment in Berlin, where she has said she likes to take refuge in a quiet atmosphere and cook for her husband. She has often openly expressed dislike for the gigantic Federal Chancellery designed and built by Helmut Kohl as the seat of government of the new unified Germany (a sign of lack of concern for any negative PR those comments could cause - weak focus on E+T) and that she prefers not to work at the huge Kohl-designed desk in her office but rather at the more down-to-earth meeting table. All of that points to a person with a clear focus on S, but with a lack of concern for, even awareness of, the symbolic trappings of power of her office (E+T). Also revealingly, when recalling her life as a researcher in East Berlin, what she emphasised as being very negative and depressive about that period was not the lack of freedom in East Germany along with the awareness that colleagues might be Stasi informers - no, what she found most depressive was how "ugly" everything was in East Germany. All of the above points to S as far more valued than F and places Merkel in the Alpha or Delta quadras.

What we have so far points consistently to a Logical type of the Alpha or Delta quadras who has very low focus on F, E and R, and the consistent description of her behaviour in her earliest political activities suggest an Integrator type. That would point to LII as well as SLI as plausible types; however, Merkel's approach to R and L  noted above points to R3 rather than to R6, and her S, although valued, seems S6 rather than S1: Merkel likes positive S sensations for herself but she is not a person obviously able to create a positive S environment for others, by means of a warm or soothing personality. The evidence points to LII as Angela Merkel's type and that fits everything that is known about her, as well as her approach to the office of German Chancellor.

To learn more about LII, click here.

If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.

Sources: besides Wikipedia, several YouTube interviews as well as interviews and articles in the weekly Der Spiegel.

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