Nobody could 'do a Thatcher' today, even if they had a stronger personality than Merkel. In 2005 there could not be a successful Margaret Thatcher figure in Germany - or, indeed, in Britain. [...]
The political class is too uncertain and risk-averse to act with resolution; parties lack the vision or political resources to mobilise a strong constituency to vote, never mind fight; and attempts to find a military-style solution to political problems - such as the Bush-Blair adventure in Iraq - quickly falter and make matters even worse. A younger Margaret Thatcher might still be able to play the part, but her prospects of success would be little better than Frau Merkel's.
There seems a particular irony in the notion that the new Germany could now have a new Thatcher. The reunification of Germany, through the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, coincided with the demise of Thatcherism in Britain. This was more than mere coincidence. The fall of the Soviet bloc destroyed too the old parties of the European left, with their more-or-less overt links to Stalinism and the ideas of state socialism. Before long, however, that disintegrative process also exposed the political exhaustion of the 'triumphant' parties of the right, which had long relied on anti-communism to compensate for the emptiness of their own vision. Fifteen years on, the empty shell of Western party politics stands revealed as clearly as the decrepitude of the Soviet system was then.