Merkel ChiracI find myself a bit shocked to be saying this, but I was actually quite impressed by the way that new German Chancellor Angela Merkel approached her first visit to London. The approach was cooperative and practical, and above all else, non-macho. Her approach is summed up quite well by William Horsley in this BBC News online article. He stresses that Merkel’s main point was that states should stop the bickering and sit down and talk. This strikes me as a refreshingly new approach after all the mess between Blair, Chirac and Schroeder who all seemed to want to out-macho each other.

So why is this? First of all, it might well just be because Merkel is new. Things may well change over time and she gets just as difficult as the others. It may also be a different way of negotiating because she is one of very, very few female leaders, and some stereotypical differences between the negotiating styles of men and women have been well documented – see this and this for some interesting arguments.

This of course did not stop Jacques Chirac kissing her on the hand (pictured) in the stereotypical fashion, so clearly he needs to move into the modern world…

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