As she enters her final few months, the German leader is showing growing signs of fatigue and a political scientist who observed her latest movements said she appears to be “no longer interested” in the job. Germany’s economy has been dealt a heavy blow by the coronavirus pandemic and the country is preparing for federal elections in September.
And the EU’s vaccine scandal has been a thorn in Mrs Merkel’s side.
Earlier this month she said it “rankles” that other countries were surging ahead with the vaccine but insisted that “basically nothing has gone wrong” with the EU’s approach.
Her assessment was in dire contrast to the outrage expressed by politicians across the bloc as they slammed the European Commission over its handling of the debacle.
Armin Laschet was elected the new leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU), the party of Mrs Merkel, in January.
He is being groomed to take over as chancellor when she steps down later this year.
Ms Merkel appeared tired at the Munich Security Conference last week, where US President Joe Biden addressed his new counterparts.
Professor Carlo Masala, a political scientist, said the energy emitted by America’s new leader was a far cry from Mrs Merkel’s.
He told German news website merkur.de: “Biden was very enthusiastic; Merkel, on the contrary, looked tired and exhausted.
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The country’s vaccination rollout is operating at a snail’s pace, a factor which will have a major effect on reopening the economy.
Germany has administered just 6.23 jabs per 100 people, while the UK’s number stands at 27.03.
Speaking to her MPs on Tuesday night, Mrs Merkel warned the road ahead would be rocky and Germany could not afford to make mistakes, according to The Times.
She told them: “We are now in the third wave.
“We cannot afford ups and downs.”
The rollout of the vaccine programme in German states lacks a clear strategy.
Teachers have been listed in the second-highest priority group for the jab but depending on the region may have to wait more than a month before they are given a dose.
In Hamburg, teachers are facing a long wait as the authorities struggle to administer their stockpile of the jab to the over-80s, clinically vulnerable people and frontline hospital staff.
Schools have been largely closed since December and giving teachers the vaccine is seen as an essential step before children and staff can return to classroom learning.