Two Powerful Women Losing Power

Two Powerful Women Losing Power

That would be respective Angela Merkel and Janet Yellen, both reported to have lost a lot of power in today’s Washington Post.  During at least the last year, if not the last four, they have been probably the two most powerful women on the planet.

In the case of Merkel, what has happened is that she has failed to form a coalition government after last month’s election, which put her and her party in the lead, but not enough so to allow her to push through to a coalition government, with the hard right Alternative for Democracy (AfD) getting the Bundestag.  She had been trying to form a “Jamaica” coalition with the Greens and the Free Democrats, but the latter withdrew from the negotiations for reasons the WaPo story did not clarify (quality of reporting at WaPo has been declining steadily for some time).  Apparently she then made a last gasp effort to negotiate another “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats, but having lost a lot of support due to having been in such an arrangement prior to the last election, they refused.

It looks like she will call for another round of elections in January, and the AfD is crowing with delight for an apparent triumph on their part.  I guess we shall see.  In the meantime, aside from her personal embarrassment, EU-Brexit negotiations are now reportedly in a stall pattern as nobody wants to sign on to anything without a definitely in-place government in Germany to approve or disapprove of it.   Merkel may yet regain her power if the January elections go more firmly her way, although she may well be forced to step aside as Kanzler der Bundes Deutsches Republik and more completely and thoroughly lose power. Many fear the results of the latter, although if it were to be due to a government led by the SocDems, many hear might cheer.

As for Janet Yellen, obviously she had already taken a hit with Donald Trump violating precedent by failing to reappoint her as Chair of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve System, even though he had praised her job performance, but claimed that he needed to “make his mark.”  I fear we have had all too much of that already.  In any case, while she could have remained as a governor until 2024, today’s WaPo reports that she has sent a letter of resignation to Trump and will remove herself from the board when she steps down as Chair in February, thereby giving him yet another seat to fill on the board.

It is no secret that I am and long have been a great fan of Janet Yellen’s, having been the very first person to call for her appointment as Chair all the way back in 2009.  I regret this decision, but understand that probably her husband, George Akerlof, is pleased and looking forward to moving back to the Berkeley hills.  I wish them both the best, even as I regret her departure.

While there may be a touch of sexism in Trump’s decision, I do not think that has much to do with Merkel’s current difficulties.  Nevertheless, I think it is unfortunate that these two very capable women who have wielded great power recently will not be doing so at least in the near future.

Barkley Rosser