BERLIN – It is not entirely clear who – Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Peter Parker (Spiderman) – first said that “with great power comes great responsibility.” But it is an adage that applies perfectly to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel’s resounding victory in Germany’s recent general election gives her a mandate that few of her fellow world leaders enjoys nowadays. In a country obsessed by the costs that the euro crisis may inflict upon national savers, the anti-euro party received less than 5% of the popular vote, which gives Merkel exceptional political strength. Even the fact that her center-right Christian Democratic Union fell short of an absolute parliamentary majority is a blessing in disguise. The grand coalition with the center-left Social Democratic Party that she is likely to form will command a super-majority of 503 seats in the 630-seat Bundestag.
For several months (at least), the rest of Europe has been waiting for the result of this election. The biggest question now is where Merkel will invest her enormous political capital. Her choice may well shape the future of the continent.