She was the Time magazine’s person of the year 2015, and people refer to her as the mightiest woman in the world: Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. If she wins the election in 2017 for the fourth period, she will be head of government as long as her longtime mentor Helmut Kohl was. If not, she will also become one of the most iconic chancellors in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The life of Angela Merkel before Politics
Angela Merkel was born in 1954 in Hamburg but grew up in the GDR in the Uckermark near Berlin. The general public sees her as the first chancellor from the east. Her origin has also always been some issue that was sometimes named when it comes to criticizing Angela Merkel: Her past in the GDR. As a youngster in the socialist state, she had to join the Freie Deutsche Jugend, the youth organization of the GDR.
But she did not only participate in it but was also a referent for cultural issues during her times in university. She was never part of the SED-Party, but also never participated in any opposition. Angela Merkel was more a scientist, and therefore she might have kept herself out of anything that could have harmed her academic career. She became a Physicist and even graduated with her Ph.D.
Some people say that her scientific way to solve problems is also a characteristic of her way to act in politics: Don’t rush into something, just look at it in quiet, analyze it and then find a solution. It is this way of dealing with problems that gave her respect, but also a lot of criticism when Angela Merkel became chancellor. When it came to public discussions, she often kept it small and just remained quiet. That’s why she sometimes even was called the Teflon Chancellor because everything just bounces off her.
On the way to Leadership
As she was elected first in 2005, Angela Merkel was not completely unknown. She was a fellow of Helmut Kohl who more or less stood in the background. But she is said to have prepared her rise inside the party CDU precisely. In 1999, she dared to criticize Helmut Kohl in public in an article in the Newspaper FAZ – something that was unthinkable before inside the CDU and especially risky for her because Kohl was something like her mentor. But this step made her soon become the chairwomen of the party itself which led to the opportunity to become the candidate for the chancellorship.
As chancellor, Angela Merkel was not only known for her analytic behavior, but also for her attitude to strengthen the European Integration and therefore the European Union. She became close to both Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, last one of course because she is also fluent in Russian.
But some of her most infective actions just took place in the last few years. First, she was known for her strict course towards the debtors inside the European Union, most of all Greece, whose people even referred to her as the second Hitler. She also strengthened the leading role of Germany inside Europe which had the same effect on some groups. On the other hand, she also became popular among left voters for her course during the refugee crisis and her bon mot “Wir schaffen das!” (we will handle it!).
Angela Merkel is both respected and hated, but which one of the political leaders is not? But one thing is for sure: Her way to deal with things like a physician has influenced Germany probably more than any other could have done in the last ten years.