Portrait: Angela Merkel, physicist and first female chancellor of Germany

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
Reading Time:  8 minutes

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Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German politician and scientist who served as the chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), she previously served as leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2005 and as Leader of the CDU from 2000 to 2018. Merkel was the first female chancellor of Germany. During her tenure as Chancellor, Merkel was frequently referred to as the de facto leader of the European Union (EU) and the most powerful woman in the world.

Merkel was born in Hamburg in then-West Germany, moving to East Germany as an infant when her father, a Lutheran clergyman, received a pastorate in Perleberg. She obtained a doctorate in quantum chemistry in 1986 and worked as a research scientist until 1989. Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989, briefly serving as deputy spokesperson for the first democratically elected Government of East Germany led by Lothar de Maizière. Following German reunification in 1990, Merkel was elected to the Bundestag for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. As the protégée of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Merkel was appointed as Minister for Women and Youth in 1991, later becoming Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in 1994. After the CDU lost the 1998 federal election, Merkel was elected CDU General Secretary, before becoming the party’s first female leader and the first female Leader of the Opposition two years later, in the aftermath of a donations scandal that toppled Wolfgang Schäuble.

Following the 2005 federal election, Merkel was appointed to succeed Gerhard Schröder as Chancellor of Germany, leading a grand coalition consisting of the CDU, its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). Merkel was the first woman to be elected as Chancellor, and the first Chancellor since reunification to have been raised in the former East Germany. At the 2009 federal election, the CDU obtained the largest share of the vote, and Merkel was able to form a coalition government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP). At the 2013 federal election, Merkel’s CDU won a landslide victory with 41.5% of the vote and formed a second grand coalition with the SPD, after the FDP lost all of its representation in the Bundestag. At the 2017 federal election, Merkel led the CDU to become the largest party for the fourth time; Merkel formed a third grand coalition with the SPD and was sworn in for a joint-record fourth term as Chancellor on 14 March 2018.

President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel 2013 in Berlin © The White House - Pete Souza Secretary Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden © U.S. Department of State © א (Aleph)/cc-by-sa-2.5 © Olaf Kosinsky/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Armin Linnartz/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Pixelfehler/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Secretary Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden © U.S. Department of State
In foreign policy, Merkel has emphasised international cooperation, both in the context of the EU and NATO, and strengthening transatlantic economic relations. In 2008, Merkel served as President of the European Council and played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration. Merkel played a crucial role in managing the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the European debt crisis. She negotiated the 2008 European Union stimulus plan focusing on infrastructure spending and public investment to counteract the Great Recession. In domestic policy, Merkel’s Energiewende program has focused on future energy development, seeking to phase out nuclear power in Germany, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase renewable energy sources. Reforms to the Bundeswehr which abolished conscription, health care reform, and her government’s response to the 2010s European migrant crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany were major issues during her chancellorship. She served as the senior G7 leader from 2011 to 2012 and again from 2014 to 2021. In 2014 she became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the EU. In October 2018, Merkel announced that she would stand down as Leader of the CDU at the party convention, and would not seek a fifth term as Chancellor in the 2021 federal election.

A final assessment of the terms of office in detail cannot be done yet. That will take a little more time, also to let a lot sink in and wait for the effects. However, if one listen to the farewell speeches of her counterparts from all over the world, including of course Barack Obama, then the greatest respect is shown, even by those with whom the Chancellor has not always had an easy time. At the same time, she has approval ratings in Germany that others do not even reach when taking office. Following the motto “when the party is at its most beautiful, you should leave”, she did just that self-determined and one can certainly believe her that she is actually not aiming for a new/other, political office, although that is sad, because the number of challenges in the world won’t get any less.

Thank you for 16 good and solid years in heavy waters and all the best for the future. Let us hear from you! :-)

Read more on Wikipedia Angela Merkel (DW, 7 June 2022: Germany’s former Chancellor Angela Merkel to speak out (very nice interview. The “feel good appointments” will also be remembered. The interview could have lasted three to five hours longer. It was to be expected that she explained her Russia policy and the still correct “No” to Ukraine’s NATO accession from the point of view of the time, but it was probably only addressed to those who are currently applying for the “smart ass and afterwards you’re always smarter”-Award 2022), The Guardian, 7 June 2022: Germany: No regrets over handling of Vladimir Putin, says Angela Merkel, Irish Times, 7 June 2022: Merkel defends her personal record in dealings with Russia, DW, 7 June 2022: Angela Merkel opens up on Ukraine, Putin and her legacy, DW, 3 October 2022: Germany’s Angela Merkel, an ex-chancellor from a different era, France24, 4 October 2022: Merkel wins UN refugee prize for ‘courage and compassion’ during migrant crisis, DW, 4 October 2022: German ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel wins UN refugee prize, The National, 4 October 2022: UN gives Merkel top award for granting asylum to 1 million Syrians in Germany, Politico.eu, 25 November 2022: Merkel: There was nothing I could do about Putin, DW, 7 December 2022: Merkel defends decisions on Russian energy, Politico.eu, 7 December 2022: Merkel admits failures on defense policy, DW, 7 February 2023: UNESCO honors Angela Merkel with Peace Prize, Politico.eu, 8 February 2023: Angela Merkel receives peace prize for her refugee policy, DW, 8 February 2023: Angela Merkel receives UNESCO Peace Prize in Ivory Coast, DW, 17 April 2023: Angela Merkel receives Germany’s highest Order of Merit, Politico.eu, 17 April 2023: Angela Merkel receives Germany’s highest honor, The Washington Post, 26 May 2023: Did Merkel Pave the Way for the War in Ukraine?, Politico.eu, 8 December 2023: Merkel moves further away from politics, DW, 9 December 2023: Germany: Angela Merkel leaves CDU-aligned think tank) (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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