The life and times of German chancellor Angela Merkel

WION Web Team Berlin, Germany Dec 18, 2018, 11.13 AM(IST)

Angela Merkel. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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Born in 1954, Merkel studied physics at Karl Marx University (now known as University of Leipzig). She was awarded a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry in 1986.

It was an end of an era in Germany after Angela Merkel, the country’s four-time Chancellor, announced in October that she will not stand again for the leadership of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), following a string of poll setbacks.

A vote that followed Merkel’s announcement saw her close ally Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer emerging as the party’s choice for the new leader. Merkel, 64, had been at the helm of the party for 18 years.

Merkel first became Germany’s chancellor in 2005 and will seek another term in the election set for 2021. She has seen four French presidents and four British prime ministers during her time in office.

The CDU's choice marked a vote for relative political stability in Europe as British Prime Minister Theresa May faces Brexit turmoil and French President Emmanuel Macron's government is rocked by violent street protests.

The biggest political crisis that Merkel has faced during her long career is a 2015 decision to welcome more than one million asylum seekers fleeing crisis zones such as Syria and Iraq. The decision continues to roil German politics and many publications in the country say it hurt the party in national election in September last year.

But despite her diminishing authority, Merkel was named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2017. She has topped the Forbes list for the seventh consecutive year, and for the 12th time in total.

Born in 1954, Merkel studied physics at Karl Marx University (now known as University of Leipzig). She was awarded a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry in 1986.

Merkel entered politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, joining the Conservative Alliance which was a part of Christian Democratic Union and German Social Union coalition. She formally joined the CDU in 1990 and won her first election in December that year.

Merkel was elected to lead the CDU in the year 2000, becoming the first woman to lead the party. In the 2002 election for Chancellorship, there was no consensus on Merkel’s name but political turns in Germany led to early elections, in 2005, in which a grand coalition was announced with Merkel at its head. She took oath as Chancellor of Germany for the first time on November 22, 2005, becoming the first woman, the first East German and at aged 51 at that time, the youngest to hold the post in Germany.