Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

“Freedom does not mean being free of something, but to be free to do something.”

Angela Dorothea Merkel (July 17, 1954) is a German politician and Chancellor of Germany. She is also the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

A former research scientist with a doctorate in physical chemistry, 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. Merkel was appointed as the Minister for Women and Youth in the federal government under Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1991, and became the Minister for the Environment 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 woman 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 woman 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 support of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). At the 2013 federal election, Merkel 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 2007, Merkel was President of the European Council and chaired the G8, the second woman to do so. Merkel 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.

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 by Forbes magazine, the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman.

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.” 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. In May 2016, Merkel was named the most powerful woman in the world for a record tenth time by Forbes. On 20 November 2016, Merkel announced she would seek re-election to a fourth term.

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