Angela Dorothea Merkel (/ˈmɜːrkəl/; German: [aŋˈɡeːla ˈmɛʁkl̩];[a] née Kasner, born 17 July 1954) is a German politician serving as Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She served as the leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 2000 to 2018. Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union, the most powerful woman in the world, and by many commentators as the leader of the Free World.
Merkel was born in Hamburg in then-West Germany and moved 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, and briefly served as a deputy spokesperson for the first democratically elected East German Government headed by Lothar de Maizière in 1990. Following German reunification in 1990, Merkel was elected to the Bundestag for the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and has been reelected ever since. As the protégée of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Merkel was appointed as the Federal Minister for Women and Youth in Kohl's government in 1991, and became the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in 1994. After her party lost the federal election in 1998, Merkel was elected Secretary-General of the CDU before becoming the party's first female leader two years later in the aftermath of a donations scandal that toppled Wolfgang Schäuble.
Following the 2005 federal election, Merkel was appointed Germany's first female chancellor at the head of a grand coalition consisting of the CDU, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In 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. In the 2017 federal election the CDU again became the largest party, and she was reelected to her fourth term on 14 March 2018.
In 2007, Merkel was President of the European Council and played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration. One of Merkel's consistent priorities has been to strengthen transatlantic economic relations. Merkel played a crucial role in managing the financial crisis at the European and international level, and she has been referred to as "the decider." In domestic policy, health care reform, problems concerning future energy development and more recently her government's approach to the ongoing migrant crisis have been major issues during her Chancellorship. On 26 March 2014, Merkel became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union and she is currently the senior G7 leader.
|Chancellor of Germany|
|Assumed office |
22 November 2005
|Preceded by||Gerhard Schröder|
|Leader of the Christian Democratic Union|
10 April 2000 – 7 December 2018
|Preceded by||Wolfgang Schäuble|
|Succeeded by||Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer|
|Leader of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag|
22 September 2002 – 21 November 2005
|Preceded by||Friedrich Merz|
|Succeeded by||Volker Kauder|
|General Secretary of the Christian Democratic Union|
7 November 1998 – 10 April 2000
|Preceded by||Peter Hintze|
|Succeeded by||Ruprecht Polenz|
|Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety|
17 November 1994 – 26 October 1998
|Preceded by||Klaus Töpfer|
|Succeeded by||Jürgen Trittin|
|Minister for Women and Youth|
18 January 1991 – 17 November 1994
|Preceded by||Ursula Lehr|
|Succeeded by||Claudia Nolte|
|Member of the Bundestag|
|Assumed office |
22 September 2013
|Constituency||Vorpommern-Rügen – Vorpommern-Greifswald I|
18 January 1991 – 22 September 2013
|Constituency||Stralsund – Nordvorpommern – Rügen|
Angela Dorothea Kasner
17 July 1954
Hamburg, West Germany
Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner in 1954, in Hamburg, West Germany, the daughter of Horst Kasner (1926–2011; né Kaźmierczak), a Lutheran pastor and a native of Berlin, and his wife Herlind (née Jentzsch), born in 1928 in Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland), a teacher of English and Latin. She has two younger siblings, Marcus Kasner, a physicist, and Irene Kasner, an occupational therapist. In her childhood and youth, Merkel was known among her peers by the nickname "Kasi", derived from her last name Kasner.
Merkel is of German and Polish descent. Her paternal grandfather, Ludwik Kasner, was a German policeman of Polish ethnicity, who had taken part in Poland's struggle for independence in the early 20th century. He married Merkel's grandmother Margarethe, a German from Berlin, and relocated to her hometown where he worked in the police. In 1930, they Germanized the Polish name Kaźmierczak to Kasner. Merkel's maternal grandparents were the Danzig politician Willi Jentzsch, and Gertrud Alma née Drange, a daughter of the city clerk of Elbing (now Elbląg, Poland) Emil Drange. Since the mid 1990s, Merkel has publicly mentioned her Polish heritage on several occasions and described herself as a quarter Polish, but her Polish roots became better known as a result of a 2013 biography.
Religion played a key role in the Kasner family's migration from West Germany to East Germany. Merkel's paternal grandfather was originally Catholic but the entire family converted to Lutheranism during the childhood of her father, who later studied Lutheran theology in Heidelberg and Hamburg. In 1954, when Angela was just three months old, her father received a pastorate at the church in Quitzow (a quarter of Perleberg in Brandenburg), which was then in East Germany. The family moved to Templin and Merkel grew up in the countryside 90 km (56 mi) north of East Berlin.
In 1968, Merkel joined the Free German Youth (FDJ), the official communist youth movement sponsored by the ruling Marxist–Leninist Socialist Unity Party of Germany. Membership was nominally voluntary, but those who did not join found it difficult to gain admission to higher education. She did not participate in the secular coming of age ceremony Jugendweihe, however, which was common in East Germany. Instead, she was confirmed. During this time, she participated in several compulsory courses on Marxism-Leninism with her grades only being regarded as "sufficient".
Later, at the Academy of Sciences, she became a member of its FDJ secretariat. According to her former colleagues, she openly propagated Marxism as the secretary for "Agitation and Propaganda". However, Merkel has denied this claim and stated that she was secretary for culture, which involved activities like obtaining theatre tickets and organising talks by visiting Soviet authors. She stated "I can only rely on my memory, if something turns out to be different, I can live with that."
At school, she learned to speak Russian fluently, and was awarded prizes for her proficiency in Russian and Mathematics. Merkel was educated at Karl Marx University, Leipzig, where she studied physics from 1973 to 1978. While a student, she participated in the reconstruction of the ruin of the Moritzbastei, a project students initiated to create their own club and recreation facility on campus. Such an initiative was unprecedented in the GDR of that period, and initially resisted by the University; however, with backing of the local leadership of the SED party, the project was allowed to proceed.
Near the end of her studies, Merkel sought an assistant professorship at an engineering school. As a condition for getting the job, Merkel was told she would need to agree to report on her colleagues to officers of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi). Merkel declined, using the excuse that she could not keep secrets well enough to be an effective spy. Merkel worked and studied at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof from 1978 to 1990. At first she and her husband squatted in Mitte. After being awarded a doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) for her thesis on quantum chemistry in 1986, she worked as a researcher and published several papers. In 1986, she was able to travel freely to West Germany to attend a congress; she also participated in a multi-week language course in Donetsk.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 served as the catalyst for Merkel's political career. Although she did not participate in the crowd celebrations the night the wall came down, one month later Merkel became involved in the growing democracy movement, joining the new party Democratic Awakening. Following the first (and only) multi-party election in East Germany, she became the deputy spokesperson of the new pre-unification caretaker government under Lothar de Maizière. Merkel had impressed de Maiziere with her adept dealing with journalists questioning the role of a party leader, Wolfgang Schnur, as a secret informant for police. In April 1990, Democratic Awakening merged with the East German CDU, which in turn merged with its western counterpart after reunification.
In the German federal election of 1990, the first to be held following reunification, Merkel successfully stood for election to the Bundestag in the parliamentary constituency of Stralsund – Nordvorpommern – Rügen in north Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. She has won re-election from this constituency (renamed, with slightly adjusted borders, Vorpommern-Rügen – Vorpommern-Greifswald I in 2003) at the seven federal elections held since then. Almost immediately following her entry into parliament, Merkel was appointed by Chancellor Helmut Kohl to serve as Minister for Women and Youth in the federal cabinet. In 1994, she was promoted to the position of Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety, which gave her greater political visibility and a platform on which to build her personal political career. As one of Kohl's protégées and his youngest Cabinet Minister, she was frequently referred to by Kohl as "mein Mädchen" ("my girl").
After the Kohl Government was defeated at the 1998 election, Merkel was appointed Secretary-General of the CDU, a key position as the party was no longer part of the federal government. Merkel oversaw a string of CDU election victories in six out of seven state elections in 1999, breaking the long-standing SPD-Green hold on the Bundesrat. Following a party funding scandal that compromised many leading figures of the CDU – including Kohl himself and his successor as CDU Leader, Wolfgang Schäuble – Merkel criticised her former mentor publicly and advocated a fresh start for the party without him. She was subsequently elected to replace Schäuble, becoming the first female leader of a German party on 10 April 2000. Her election surprised many observers, as her personality offered a contrast to the party she had been elected to lead; Merkel is a centrist Protestant originating from predominantly Protestant northern Germany, while the CDU is a male-dominated, socially conservative party with strongholds in western and southern Germany, and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has deep Catholic roots.
Following Merkel's election as CDU Leader, the CDU was not able to win in subsequent state elections. As early as February 2001 her rival Friedrich Merz had made clear he intended to become Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's main challenger in the 2002 election. Merkel's own ambition to become Chancellor was well-known, but she lacked the support of most Minister-presidents and other grandees within her own party. She was subsequently outmaneuvered politically by CSU Leader Edmund Stoiber, to whom she eventually ceded the privilege of challenging Schröder. He went on to squander a large lead in opinion polls to lose the election by a razor-thin margin in an election campaign that was dominated by the Iraq War. While Chancellor Schröder made clear he would not join the war in Iraq , Merkel and the CDU-CSU supported the invasion of Iraq. After Stoiber's defeat in 2002, in addition to her role as CDU Leader, Merkel became Leader of the Opposition in the Bundestag; Friedrich Merz, who had held the post prior to the 2002 election, was eased out to make way for Merkel.
Merkel supported a substantial reform agenda for Germany's economic and social system, and was considered more pro-market than her own party (the CDU). She advocated German labour law changes, specifically removing barriers to laying off employees and increasing the allowed number of work hours in a week. She argued that existing laws made the country less competitive, because companies could not easily control labour costs when business is slow.
Merkel advocated a strong transatlantic partnership and German-American friendship. In the spring of 2003, defying strong public opposition, Merkel came out in favour of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, describing it as "unavoidable" and accusing Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of anti-Americanism. She criticised the government's support for the accession of Turkey to the European Union and favoured a "privileged partnership" instead. In doing so, she reflected public opinion that grew more hostile toward Turkish membership of the European Union.
On 30 May 2005, Merkel won the CDU/CSU nomination as challenger to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the SPD in the 2005 national elections. Her party began the campaign with a 21-point lead over the SPD in national opinion polls, although her personal popularity lagged behind that of the incumbent. However, the CDU/CSU campaign suffered when Merkel, having made economic competence central to the CDU's platform, confused gross and net income twice during a televised debate. She regained some momentum after she announced that she would appoint Paul Kirchhof, a former judge at the German Constitutional Court and leading fiscal policy expert, as Minister of Finance.
Merkel and the CDU lost ground after Kirchhof proposed the introduction of a flat tax in Germany, again undermining the party's broad appeal on economic affairs and convincing many voters that the CDU's platform of deregulation was designed to benefit only the rich. This was compounded by Merkel's proposal to increase VAT to reduce Germany's deficit and fill the gap in revenue from a flat tax. The SPD were able to increase their support simply by pledging not to introduce flat taxes or increase VAT. Although Merkel's standing recovered after she distanced herself from Kirchhof's proposals, she remained considerably less popular than Schröder, and the CDU's lead was down to 9% on the eve of the election.
On the eve of the election, Merkel was still favored to win a decisive victory based on opinion polls. On 18 September 2005, Merkel's CDU/CSU and Schröder's SPD went head-to-head in the national elections, with the CDU/CSU winning 35.2% (CDU 27.8%/CSU 7.5%) of the second votes to the SPD's 34.2%. The result was so close, both Schröder and Merkel claimed victory. Neither the SPD-Green coalition nor the CDU/CSU and its preferred coalition partners, the Free Democratic Party, held enough seats to form a majority in the Bundestag. A grand coalition between the CDU/CSU and SPD faced the challenge that both parties demanded the chancellorship. However, after three weeks of negotiations, the two parties reached a deal whereby Merkel would become Chancellor and the SPD would hold 8 of the 16 seats in the cabinet.
On 22 November 2005, Merkel assumed the office of Chancellor of Germany following a stalemate election that resulted in a grand coalition with the SPD. The coalition deal was approved by both parties at party conferences on 14 November 2005. Merkel was elected Chancellor by the majority of delegates (397 to 217) in the newly assembled Bundestag on 22 November 2005, but 51 members of the governing coalition voted against her.
Reports at the time indicated that the grand coalition would pursue a mix of policies, some of which differed from Merkel's political platform as leader of the opposition and candidate for Chancellor. The coalition's intent was to cut public spending whilst increasing VAT (from 16 to 19%), social insurance contributions and the top rate of income tax.
When announcing the coalition agreement, Merkel stated that the main aim of her government would be to reduce unemployment, and that it was this issue on which her government would be judged.
Her party was re-elected in 2009 with an increased number of seats, and could form a governing coalition with the FDP. This term was overshadowed by the European debt crisis. Conscription in Germany was abolished and the Bundeswehr became a Volunteer military. Unemployment sank below the mark of 3 million unemployed people.
In the election of September 2013 the CDU/CSU parties emerged as winners, but formed another grand coalition with the SPD due to the FDP's failure to obtain the minimum of 5% of votes required to enter parliament. 
In the 2017 election, Merkel led her party to victory for the fourth time. Both CDU/CSU and SPD received a significantly lower proportion of the vote than they did in the 2013 election. and attempted to form a coalition with the FDP and Greens. The collapse of these talks led to stalemate. The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier appealed to the SPD to change their hard stance and to consider a 3rd grand coalition with the CDU/CSU.
Recent news has said that her successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer may take over Merkel's position, if she does not win the upcoming election in Germany. This is neither confirmed or denied, but is a possibility.
In October 2010, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had "utterly failed", stating that: "The concept that we are now living side by side and are happy about it" does not work and "we feel attached to the Christian concept of mankind, that is what defines us. Anyone who doesn't accept that is in the wrong place here." She continued to say that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values. This has added to a growing debate within Germany on the levels of immigration, its effect on Germany and the degree to which Muslim immigrants have integrated into German society.
During the Syrian Civil War, Merkel pledged to give refuge in Germany to Syrians in fleeing the fighting, discontinuing the enforcement of EU regulations for asylum seekers. This policy is widely regarded as having set off the 2015 European migrant crisis. During the crisis, the number of people coming from African nations as well as from countries in the Middle East, outside the war zone, such as Afghanistan and Iran, rose significantly.
Merkel's foreign policy has focused on strengthening European cooperation and international trade agreements. Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union throughout her tenure as Chancellor.
One of Merkel's priorities was strengthening transatlantic economic relations. She signed the agreement for the Transatlantic Economic Council on 30 April 2007 at the White House. Merkel enjoyed good relations with U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Obama described her in 2016 as his "closest international partner" throughout his tenure as President.
On 25 September 2007, Merkel met the 14th Dalai Lama for "private and informal talks" in the Chancellery in Berlin amid protest from China. China afterwards cancelled separate talks with German officials, including talks with Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries.
In recognition of the importance of China to the German economy, by 2014 Merkel had led seven trade delegations to China since assuming office in 2005. The same year, in March, China's President Xi Jinping visited Germany.
In 2015, with the absence of Stephen Harper, Merkel became the only leader to have attended every G20 meeting since the very first in 2008, having been present at a record thirteen summits as of 2018. She hosted the twelfth meeting at the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit.
Following major falls in worldwide stock markets in September 2008, the German government stepped in to assist the mortgage company Hypo Real Estate with a bailout, which was agreed on 6 October, with German banks to contribute €30 billion and the Bundesbank €20 billion to a credit line.
On 4 October 2008, following the Irish Government's decision to guarantee all deposits in private savings accounts, a move she strongly criticised, Merkel said there were no plans for the German Government to do the same. The following day, Merkel stated that the government would guarantee private savings account deposits, after all. However, two days later, on 6 October 2008, it emerged that the pledge was simply a political move that would not be backed by legislation. Other European governments eventually either raised the limits or promised to guarantee savings in full.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2013, she said that Europe had only 7% of the global population and produced only 25% of the global GDP, but that it accounted for almost 50% of global social expenditure. She went on to say that Europe could only maintain its prosperity by being innovative and measuring itself against the best. Since then, this comparison has become a central element in major speeches. The international financial press has widely commented on her thesis, with The Economist saying that:
If Mrs Merkel's vision is pragmatic, so too is her plan for implementing it. It can be boiled down to three statistics, a few charts and some facts on an A4 sheet of paper. The three figures are 7%, 25% and 50%. Mrs Merkel never tires of saying that Europe has 7% of the world's population, 25% of its GDP and 50% of its social spending. If the region is to prosper in competition with emerging countries, it cannot continue to be so generous.
The Financial Times commented:
Although Ms Merkel stopped short of suggesting that a ceiling on social spending might be one yardstick for measuring competitiveness, she hinted as much in the light of soaring social spending in the face of an ageing population.[b]
The first cabinet of Angela Merkel was sworn in at 16:00 CET on 22 November 2005. On 31 October 2005, after the defeat of his favoured candidate for the position of Secretary General of the SPD, Franz Müntefering indicated that he would resign as party chairman, which he did in November. Ostensibly responding to this, Edmund Stoiber (CSU), who was originally nominated as Minister for Economics and Technology, announced his withdrawal on 1 November 2005. While this was initially seen as a blow to Merkel's attempt at forming a viable coalition, the manner in which Stoiber withdrew earned him much ridicule and severely undermined his position as a Merkel rival. Separate conferences of the CDU, CSU, and SPD approved the proposed Cabinet on 14 November 2005. The second Cabinet of Angela Merkel was sworn in on 28 October 2009.
In 2013, Merkel won one of the most decisive victories in German history, achieving the best result for the CDU/CSU since reunification and coming within five seats of the first absolute majority in the Bundestag since 1957. However, with their preferred coalition partner, the FDP, failing to enter parliament for the first time since 1949, the CDU/CSU turned to the SPD to form the third grand coalition in postwar German history and the second under Merkel's leadership. The third Cabinet of Angela Merkel was sworn in on 17 December 2013.
The fourth cabinet of Angela Merkel is the current government of Germany, and was sworn in on 14 March 2018 after. The negotiations that led to a Grand Coalition agreement with the Social Democracts (SPD) were the longest in German post-war history, lasting almost six months.
Midway through her second term, Merkel's approval plummeted in Germany, resulting in heavy losses in state elections for her party. An August 2011 poll found her coalition had only 36% support compared to a rival potential coalition's 51%. However, she scored well on her handling of the recent euro crisis (69% rated her performance as good rather than poor), and her approval rating reached an all-time high of 77% in February 2012 and again in July 2014. Merkel's approval rating dropped to 54% in October 2015, during the European migrant crisis, the lowest since 2011. According to a poll conducted after terror attacks in Germany Merkel's approval rating dropped to 47% (August 2016). Half of Germans did not want her to serve a fourth term in office compared to 42% in favor. However, according to a poll taken in October 2016, her approval rating had been found to have risen again, 54% of Germans were found to be satisfied with work of Merkel as Chancellor. According to another poll taken in November 2016, 59% were to found to be in favour of a renewed Chancellor candidature of Merkel in 2017. According to a poll carried out just days after the 2016 Berlin attack, in which it was asked which political leader(s) Germans trust to solve their country's problems; 56% named Merkel, 39% Seehofer (CSU), 35% Gabriel (SPD), 32% Schulz (SPD), 25% Özdemir (Greens), 20% Wagenknecht (Left party), 15% Lindner (FDP), and just 10% for Petry (AfD). A YouGov survey published in late December 2017 found that just 36 percent of all respondents want Merkel to stay at the helm until 2021, while half of those surveyed voters called for a change at the top before the end of the legislature.
Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union throughout her tenure as Chancellor. Merkel has twice been named the world's second most powerful person following Vladimir Putin by Forbes magazine, the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman. On 26 March 2014, Merkel became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union. In December 2015, Merkel was named as Time magazine's Person of the Year, with the magazine's cover declaring her to be the "Chancellor of the Free World". In 2018, Merkel was named the most powerful woman in the world for a record fourteenth time by Forbes. Following the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency in November 2016, Merkel was described by The New York Times as "the Liberal West's Last Defender". Since 2016 she has been described by many commentators as the "leader of the free world". Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Merkel in 2017 as "the most important leader in the free world." She is currently the senior G7 leader.
On 29 October 2018, Merkel announced that she would not seek reelection as leader of CDU at their party conference in December 2018, but intends to remain as chancellor until 2021, when the next German federal election, at the latest, is to be held. She stated that she does not plan to seek any political office after this. The resignations followed October setbacks for the CSU in the Bavarian state election and for the CDU in the Hessian state election. She decided not to suggest any person as her successor as leader of the CDU.
In 1977, at the age of 23, Angela Kasner married physics student Ulrich Merkel and took his surname. The marriage ended in divorce in 1982. Her second and current husband is quantum chemist and professor Joachim Sauer, who has largely remained out of the media spotlight. They first met in 1981, became a couple later and married privately on 30 December 1998. She has no children, but Sauer has two adult sons from a previous marriage.
Merkel is a fervent football fan and has been known to listen to games while in the Bundestag and to attend games of the national team in her official capacity. Merkel stated that her favorite movie is The Legend of Paul and Paula, an East German movie released in 1973.
Merkel has a fear of dogs after being attacked by one in 1995. Vladimir Putin, in a move reminiscent of Germany's first chancellor, brought in his Labrador Retriever during a press conference in 2007. Putin claims he did not mean to scare her, though Merkel later observed, "I understand why he has to do this – to prove he's a man. [...] He's afraid of his own weakness."
Angela Merkel is a Lutheran member of the Evangelical Church in Berlin, Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia (German: Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz – EKBO), a United Protestant (i.e. both Reformed and Lutheran) church body under the umbrella of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The EKBO is a church of the Union of Evangelical Churches. Before the 2004 merger of the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg and the Evangelical Church in Silesian Upper Lusatia (both also being a part of the EKD), she belonged to the former. In 2012, Merkel said, regarding her faith: "I am a member of the evangelical church. I believe in God and religion is also my constant companion, and has been for the whole of my life. We as Christians should above all not be afraid of standing up for our beliefs." She also publicly declared that Germany suffers not from "too much Islam" but "too little Christianity".
As a female politician from a centre right party who is also a scientist, Merkel has been compared by many in the English-language press to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Some have referred to her as "Iron Lady", "Iron Girl", and even "The Iron Frau," all alluding to Thatcher, whose nickname was "The Iron Lady" (Thatcher also had a science degree from Oxford University in chemistry). Political commentators have debated the precise extent to which their agendas are similar. Later in her tenure, Merkel acquired the nickname "Mutti" (a German familiar form of "mother"). She has also been called the "Iron Chancellor", in reference to Otto von Bismarck.
In addition to being the first female German chancellor, the first to have grown up in the former East Germany (though she was born in the West), and the youngest German chancellor since the Second World War, Merkel is also the first born after World War II, and the first chancellor of the Federal Republic with a background in natural sciences. While she studied physics, her predecessors studied law, business or history, among other professions.
Merkel has been criticised for being personally present and involved at the M100 Media Award handover to Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who had triggered the Muhammad cartoons controversy. This happened at a time of fierce emotional debate in Germany over a book by the former Deutsche Bundesbank executive and finance senator of Berlin Thilo Sarrazin, which was critical of the Muslim immigration. At the same time she condemned a planned burning of Korans by a fundamental pastor in Florida. The Central Council of Muslims in Germany and the Left Party (Die Linke) as well as the German Green Party[d] criticised the action by the centre-right chancellor. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper wrote: "This will probably be the most explosive moment of her chancellorship so far." Others have praised Merkel and called it a brave and bold move for the cause of freedom of speech.
Merkel's position towards the negative statements by Thilo Sarrazin with regard to the integration problems with Arab and Turkish people in Germany has been critical throughout. According to her personal statements, Sarrazin's approach is "totally unacceptable" and counterproductive to the ongoing problems of integration.
The term alternativlos (German for "without an alternative"), which was frequently used by Angela Merkel to describe her measures addressing the European sovereign-debt crisis, was named the Un-word of the Year 2010 by a jury of linguistic scholars. The wording was criticised as undemocratic, as any discussion on Merkel's politics would thus be deemed unnecessary or undesirable. The expression is credited for the name of the political party Alternative for Germany, which was founded in 2013.
In July 2013, Merkel defended the surveillance practices of the National Security Agency, and described the United States as "our truest ally throughout the decades". During a visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in Berlin, Merkel said on 19 June 2013 in the context of the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures: "The Internet is uncharted territory for us all". (German: Das Internet ist Neuland für uns alle.) This statement led to various internet memes and online mockery of Merkel.
Merkel compared the NSA to the Stasi when it became known that her mobile phone was tapped by that agency. In response, Susan Rice pledged that the U.S. will desist from spying on her personally, but said there would not be a no-espionage agreement between the two countries.
In July 2014 Merkel said trust between Germany and the United States could only be restored by talks between the two, and she would seek to have talks. She reiterated the U.S. remained Germany's most important ally.
Her statement "Islam is part of Germany" during a state visit of the Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in January 2015 induced criticism within her party. The parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder said that Islam is not part of Germany and that Muslims should deliberate on the question why so many violent people refer to the Quran.
In October 2015, Horst Seehofer, Bavarian State Premier and leader of CSU, the sister party of Merkel's CDU, criticised Merkel's policy of allowing in hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East: "We're now in a state of mind without rules, without system and without order because of a German decision." Seehofer attacked Merkel policies in sharp language, threatened to sue the government in the high court, and hinted that the CSU might topple Merkel. Many MPs of Merkel's CDU party also voices dissatisfaction with Merkel. Chancellor Merkel insisted that Germany has the economic strength to cope with the influx of migrants and reiterated that there is no legal maximum limit on the number of migrants Germany can take.
At the conclusion of the May 2017 Group of Seven's leaders in Sicily, Merkel criticised American efforts to renege on earlier commitments on climate change. According to Merkel, the discussions were difficult and marred by dissent. "Here we have the situation where six members, or even seven if you want to add the EU, stand against one."
Merkel features as a main character in two of the three plays that make up the Europeans Trilogy (Bruges, Antwerp, Tervuren) by Paris-based UK playwright Nick Awde: Bruges (Edinburgh Festival, 2014) and Tervuren (2016). A character named Merkel, accompanied by a sidekick called Schäuble, also appears as the sinister female henchman in Michael Paraskos's novel In Search of Sixpence.
On the British sketch-comedy Tracey Ullman's Show, comedian Tracey Ullman has parodied Merkel to international acclaim with German media dubbing her impersonation as the best spoof of Merkel in the world.
In 2016, a documentary film Angela Merkel – The Unexpected, a story about her unexpected rise to power from an East German physicist to the most powerful woman in the world, was produced by Broadview TV and MDR in collaboration with Arte and Das Erste.
Angela ˈaŋɡela auch: aŋˈɡeːla.
Merkel wollte immer mit der Betonung auf dem 'e' Angela genannt werden. (Merkel always wanted her first name pronounced with the stress on the 'e'.)
Angela Merkel war allerdings kein 'einfaches Mitglied', sondern gehörte zum FDJ-Sekretariat des Instituts. Osten [Hans-Jörg Osten] kann sich nicht an die genaue Funktion seiner damaligen Kollegin erinnern. ... Er kann sich nicht definitiv daran erinnern, aber auch nicht ausschließen, dass Angela Merkel die Funktion eines Sekretärs für Agitation und Propaganda wahrnahm. [Angela Merkel was not just an 'ordinary member', but belonged to the FDJ secretariat of the institute. Osten cannot remember the exact function of his erstwhile colleague. ... He cannot remember definitely whether she performed the function of a secretary for agitation and propaganda, but he cannot exclude that possibility.]
Wir fühlen uns dem christlichen Menschenbild verbunden, das ist das, was uns ausmacht. Wer das nicht akzeptiert, der ist bei uns fehl am Platz
Ich bin Mitglied der evangelischen Kirche. Ich glaube an Gott, und die Religion ist auch mein ständiger Begleiter – eigentlich in meinem ganzen Leben – gewesen.
Es ist doch nicht so, dass wir ein Zuviel an Islam haben, sondern wir haben ein Zuwenig an Christentum.
The Medal may be awarded by the President as provided in this order to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1), the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
... Dr Angela Merkel Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany was the recipient of a Gold Medal for outstanding services, the B'nai B'rith Europe Award of Merit, being the highest accolade of BBEurope
Federal elections were held in Germany on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th Bundestag. This became necessary after a motion of confidence in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder failed on 1 July. Following the defeat of Schröder's Social Democratic Party (SPD) in a state election, Schröder asked his supporters to abstain from the Bundestag motion, knowing the motion would fail and thus triggering an early federal election.
The opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union (CSU), started the federal election campaign with a 21% lead over the SPD in opinion polls. Many commentators expected the Christian Democrats to win a clear electoral victory and that CDU leader Angela Merkel would become Chancellor, forming a government with the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and displacing the governing SPD-Green coalition. However, the CDU/CSU significantly lost momentum during the campaign and ultimately won only 1% more votes and four more seats than the SPD.
Exit polls showed clearly that neither coalition group had won a majority of seats in the Bundestag, leading to a hung parliament situation. Both parties lost seats compared to 2002, as did the Greens, while only the Left Party (a partial successor of the Party of Democratic Socialism led by Gregor Gysi and former SPD chairman Oskar Lafontaine) made significant gains. Both Schröder and Merkel claimed victory, but the formation of a new government required careful negotiations. On 10 October 2005, officials from the SPD and the CDU/CSU indicated that negotiations between the two had concluded successfully and that the participating parties would form a grand coalition with Angela Merkel as Chancellor. When the Bundestag met on 22 November, 397 CDU/CSU and SPD Bundestag members duly voted for Merkel.2009 German federal election
Federal elections took place on 27 September 2009 to elect the members of the 17th Bundestag (parliament) of Germany. Preliminary results showed that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) won the election, and the three parties announced their intention to form a new centre-right government with Angela Merkel as Chancellor. Their main opponent, Frank-Walter Steinmeier's Social Democratic Party (SPD), conceded defeat. The Christian Democrats previously governed in coalition with the FDP in most of the 1949–1966 governments of Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard and the 1982–1998 governments of Helmut Kohl.2013 German federal election
Federal elections were held on 22 September to elect the members of the 18th Bundestag of Germany. At stake were all 598 seats to the Bundestag, plus 33 overhang seats determined thereafter. The Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel won their best result since 1990, with nearly 42% of the vote and nearly 50% of the seats (five short for an overall majority). However, their coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), failed to meet the 5% vote threshold in what was their worst showing ever in a federal election, thus denying them seats in the Bundestag for the first time in their history.
Merkel's party reached a coalition agreement with the then-main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), to form a grand coalition; the third in the country's history since World War II. The SPD leadership conducted a ratification vote by their broader membership before the agreement was made final.2017 German federal election
Federal elections were held in Germany on 24 September 2017 to elect the members of the 19th Bundestag. At stake were all 598 seats in the Bundestag, as well as 111 overhang and levelling seats determined thereafter.
The Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, won the highest percentage of the vote with 33%, though suffered a large swing against it of more than 8%. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) achieved its worst result since the Second World War with only 20% of the vote. Alternative for Germany (AfD)—which was previously unrepresented in the Bundestag—became the third party in the Bundestag with 12.6% of the vote, whilst the Free Democrats (FDP) won 10.7% of the vote and returned to the Bundestag after losing all their seats in the 2013 election. The other parties to achieve representation in the Bundestag were the Left and the Greens, who each won close to 9% of the vote. In the 709 member Bundestag, the CDU/CSU won 246 seats (200 CDU and 46 CSU), SPD 153, AfD 94, FDP 80, the Left (Linke) 69, and the Greens 67. A majority is 355.
For the second consecutive occasion, the CDU/CSU reached a coalition agreement with the SPD to form a grand coalition, the fourth in post-war German history. The new government took office on 14 March 2018. The agreement came after a failed attempt by the CDU/CSU to enter into a "Jamaica coalition" with the Greens and the Free Democrats, which the latter pulled out of citing irreconcilable differences between the parties on migration and energy policy.Christian Democratic Union of Germany
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (German: Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands or CDU; German pronunciation: [ˈkʁɪstlɪç ˌdemoˈkʁaːtɪʃə ʔuˈni̯oːn ˈdɔʏtʃlants]) is a Christian democratic and liberal-conservative political party in Germany. It is the major catch-all party of the centre-right in German politics. The CDU forms the CDU/CSU grouping, also known as the Union, in the Bundestag with its Bavarian counterpart the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU). The party is widely considered an effective successor of the Centre Party, although it has a broader base.The leader of the CDU is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. She is the successor of the former party leader Angela Merkel, who is the current Chancellor of Germany. The CDU is a member of the Centrist Democrat International, International Democrat Union and European People's Party (EPP).Family of Angela Merkel
The family of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, is of German and Polish descent. Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner on 17 July 1954 in Hamburg. The Kasner name is derived from Jan Kaźmierczak, a Pole from Poznań who lived in the 18th century. Merkel's grandfather changed the name to Kasner in 1930. Merkel has been married twice, and kept the name of her first husband Ulrich Merkel. Angela Merkel's family was extensively discussed in a 2013 biography.First Merkel cabinet
Merkel's first cabinet led the government of Germany from 22 November 2005 to 27 October 2009 throughout the 16th Bundestag. Led by Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, the first female chancellor in German history, the cabinet was supported by a grand coalition between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). It followed the Second Schröder cabinet. It ceased to function after the formation of Second Merkel cabinet, which was created after the 2009 federal elections, and was later sworn in on 28 October 2009.Forbes list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women
Since 2004, Forbes has compiled a list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. It is edited by notable Forbes journalists, including Moira Forbes, and is based on visibility and economic impact. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has remained at the top spot since 2006, with the brief exception of 2010 where she was temporarily supplanted by the then U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People
Since 2009, the business magazine, Forbes had compiled an annual list of the world's most powerful people. The list has one slot for every 100 million people, meaning in 2009 there were 67 people on the list and by 2018 there were 75. Slots are allocated based on the amount of human and financial resources that they have sway over, as well as their influence on world events.Fourth Merkel cabinet
The fourth cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel is the current government of Germany, sworn in on 14 March 2018 after Merkel was proposed as Chancellor by President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and elected on the first ballot. It is the 24th cabinet of Germany (Federal Republic).This government is supported by a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD), as was its immediate predecessor.Free World
The Free World is a propaganda term primarily used during the Cold War to refer to the Western Bloc. More broadly, it has also been used to refer to all non-communist countries. It has traditionally primarily been used to refer to the countries allied and aligned with the United States and those affiliated with international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU). Critics pointed out the contradiction between the use of the term and the fact of its being applied to all NATO members even at times when some of them were ruled by military dictatorships (Turkey, Greece, Portugal) as well as to various anti-Communist dictatorial regimes closely allied to the US.Germany–India relations
Bilateral relations between the Republic of India and Germany have been traditionally strong due to commercial, cultural and technological co-operation.Google and the World Brain
Google and the World Brain is a 2013 documentary movie about the Google Books Library Project directed by Ben Lewis, produced by BBC, Polar Star Films and Arte. The main focus in the plot is on copyright controversy caused by the project that resulted in Google Book Search Settlement Agreement.
The movie has received several awards at festivals.It features interviews with many figures concerned, which include German chancellor Angela Merkel and Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig.History of Germany since 1990
The history of Germany since 1990 spans the period following the Reunification of Germany, when West Germany and East Germany were reunited after being divided during the Cold War. Germany after 1990 is referred to by historians as the Berlin Republic (Berliner Republik). This time period is also determined by the ongoing process of the "inner reunification" of the formerly divided country.Horst Seehofer
Horst Lorenz Seehofer (born 4 July 1949) is a German politician serving as Leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) from 2008 to 2019 and Minister of the Interior, Building and Community since 2018 under Chancellor Angela Merkel. From 2008 to 2018, he was Minister President of Bavaria; he also served as President of the Bundesrat between 2011 and 2012.
First elected to the Bundestag in 1980, he served as Federal Minister for Health and Social Security from 1992 to 1998 and as Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in the cabinet of Angela Merkel from 2005 to 2008. In October 2008 he became Leader of the CSU and the 18th Minister President of Bavaria. From 1 November 2011 until 31 October 2012 he served as President of the Bundesrat and ex officio deputy to the President of Germany. Because of that he was Acting President of Germany after the resignation of President Christian Wulff on 17 February 2012 and before the election of Joachim Gauck as Wulff's successor on 18 March 2012.A staunch opponent of Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy, Seehofer has threatened to file a formal complaint against the Merkel government's refugee policy with Germany's Constitutional Court and is a proponent of a federal cap on the number of refugees the German government is to take in.Joachim Sauer
Joachim Sauer (born 19 April 1949) is a German quantum chemist and full-time professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He is the husband of the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. He is one of the seven members of the board of trustees of the Friede Springer Foundation, together with former German President Horst Köhler and others.Merkel-Raute
The Merkel-Raute (German for "Merkel rhombus") is what has been termed Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power by English-speaking media: a hand gesture made by resting one's hands in front of the stomach so that the fingertips meet, with the thumbs and index fingers forming a rough quadrangular shape. This signature gesture of Angela Merkel, the current German Chancellor, has been described as "probably one of the most recognisable hand gestures in the world".Asked about how the Merkel-Raute was introduced as her trademark, Merkel stated that "there was always the question, what to do with your arms, and that's how it came about." She chose the gesture without having been assisted by a counsellor because "it contains a certain symmetry."Second Merkel cabinet
The second Merkel cabinet was the Government of Germany during the 17th legislative session of the Bundestag following the 2009 federal election, and left office on 17 December 2013. It was preceded in office by the first Merkel cabinet. Led by Chancellor Angela Merkel (the first female chancellor in German history), it was supported by a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).
The cabinet served as a caretaker government following the elections on 22 September 2013; which saw the removal of the Free Democratic Party from the Bundestag. Negotiations between the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratics (SPD) took place to form a new cabinet, and the second Merkel cabinet was succeeded by the Merkel III cabinet on 17 December 2013.Third Merkel cabinet
The third cabinet of Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel was sworn in on 17 December 2013. Led by Merkel, the government was supported by a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD).The CDU received five ministries in addition to the positions of Chancellor and Chancellery Chief of Staff/Minister for Special Affairs. The SPD controlled six ministries and the CSU three. Although the CSU received a disproportionate share of ministries relative to its weight in the Bundestag, the six most powerful ministries were divided equally between the CDU and the SPD: the CDU controls the ministries for finance, internal affairs, and defense, while the SPD controls the ministries for foreign affairs, economics and energy, and justice and consumer protection.The term of office of the third Merkel cabinet officially ended with the constitution of the 19th Bundestag on Tuesday, 24 October 2017. Merkel and her cabinet ministers received their discharge papers from the Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the same day. In accordance with Article 69 of the German constitution and at the request of the President of Germany, the cabinet remained in office as the caretaker government until a new government is formed.