If we apologize 1

It is part of conventional state wisdom that the rulers show themselves to be fundamentally in harmony with their country. The monarch then claims: "I am the state." Democratically elected heads of government do a lot to reinforce the impression: "I am one of you." It is not by chance that the last King of Saxony only formulated the historically not guaranteed cross-check when he abdicated after the November Revolution in 1918: "Make your Dregg alleene."

The sentence with which Angela Merkel defended herself against her critics on Tuesday deserves to be taken seriously in all its parts: "I have to say very honestly: If we now start to have to apologize for the fact that we have a friendly one in emergency situations Show your face, then this is not my country. " The head of government initially exposes herself as a person, not as an official, which is why she has to "say the following" very honestly. The indignation of the two following half-sentences indicates that a humane minimum had to be ensured in the decision to accept the refugees.

The "emergency" gets to the heart of the matter: time pressure, an inevitably difficult choice. The "friendly face" is a classic anti-climax, a rhetorical understatement. Because it was about much more than a nice smile. For example, it was about the city of Munich falling into an almost state of emergency, or about how Germany would look in the world.

"Then this is not my country" - a remarkable sentence

The end of the conditional sentence - "then this is not my country" - is its most remarkable part. Immediately noticeable is an emotionality, an injury that hardly any politician, least of all Angela Merkel, likes to reveal. In view of the filthy, often threatening tone that is now commonplace against professional politicians, especially on social media, there are many reasons for such hurt. Anyone who paid attention to the choruses in the background when the Chancellor visited Heidenau heard words that can only be printed on a newspaper page in exceptional cases.

So one shouldn't understand the tone of hurt Merkel took too personally. It was probably not just about Horst Seehofer. Merkel is also reacting to the disturbing rift that is opening up between a policy that cannot possibly please everyone and an uninhibited anger that believes in simple solutions. "Then this is not my country": That is a pretty frightening sentence from the mouth of a head of government. He leaves it to himself, he formulates a condition. For politicians, too, there are limits to what is morally reasonable. And: There are tasks that cannot be mastered by the rulers alone if "the country" does not participate. With her testimony, the Chancellor holds the Republic liable. Because there are realities that cannot simply be wished away. That too is democracy.