Merkel, May, Clinton may be the three women to lead the West
With Theresa May taking the British prime minister’s office on July 13, a second woman will be at the helm of another major European power, after Germany’s Angela Merkel.
This means that for the first time two of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the U.S. and the U.K., will be women. The French president will remain Francois Hollande, at least until the summer of 2017, while Vladimir Putin is in Russia until at least the spring of 2018 and there is no indication that Xi Jinping of China will leave his post in the foreseeable future. But the majority of economic strength in the G-7 (the U.S., U.K. and Germany) will be under the control of female leaders.
Such a rise of women in politics is taking place for the first time in human history as far as is known.
Whether these women’s touch will soften politics, avoid conflicts or encourage development in peace is another story, but this is happening for the first time.
Is it a coincidence that it is taking place in Western democracies with strong economies? Perhaps not. India used to be ruled by Indira Gandhi and Pakistan by Benazir Butto (both were later assassinated). But in both countries there is no sign that it could happen again. In Turkey there was Tansu Çiller in the mid-1990s, but her term in power is not remembered as being very successful. In Japan, Shinzo Abe has just declared another victory, while there is no female leader in sight in China, Iran, or Turkey, where President Tayyip Erdoğan continues to keep his power strong.
The European Union is currently the focus of developments. Two major economies in the EU, the U.K. and Germany, will be led by women: Merkel and May.
Whether this will push the EU to have more women in leading positions remains to be seen (the head positions of the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament are all currently occupied by men). But the presence of May and Merkel together is likely to initiate new political and economic balances within the EU.
May came to power not by leading her party to an election victory, but after the resignation of David Cameron after the Brexit vote on June 23. Cameron initiated the idea of Britain holding a referendum on EU membership, which started as a political bluff but turned into a bitter reality for him. May was against Brexit and wanted to secure more advantages for Britain by staying in the EU.
Now the question is whether May will now take her country out of the EU, as the people mandated the government to do through the referendum (although some voters expressed their regret immediately afterward). Or will she develop another strategy, perhaps by holding another referendum to keep Britain in the EU, as desired by its strategic ally, the U.S?
That partly depends on the results of a tiring period of diplomacy between May and her EU partners, especially with Merkel and Hollande, perhaps over a new EU model.
If she wins, that would please Clinton on the other side of the Atlantic.
But if Donald Trump wins, you can forget everything you have read in this article: We will be in a totally different world.