Born in: Hamburg, Germany
Education: Doctorate in Quantum Chemistry
Career: Chancellor of Germany
Angela Merkel is the present Chancellor of Germany, claiming the distinction to be the first German female to attain the position. Along with that, she is also credited with being the youngest person to be German chancellor since the Second World War. Angela was elected to the German Parliament from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and since April 2000, has also been holding the title of the Chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Angela Merkel was named as the ‘Most Powerful Woman of the World’ in 2007, by Forbes Magazine, for the second consecutive time. She is the third woman to serve on the G8, after Margaret Thatcher and Kim Campbell. In 2007, Angela became the second woman to chair a G8 summit, after Margaret Thatcher. She has served as the president of the European Council and in 2007, became a member of the ‘Council of Women World Leaders’.
Angela Merkel was born as ‘Angela Dorothea Kasner’ on 17th July 1954, in Hamburg, Germany. She was born to Horst Kasner, a Lutheran pastor and his wife, Herlind), a teacher of English and Latin and a member of the ‘Social Democratic Party of Germany’. Angela is the eldest of the three siblings, the other two being Marcus and Irene. Her family moved to Templin, after Horst was made a pastor at the church in Quitzow, near Perleberg, Brandenburg. Thus, she spent majority of her childhood in the countryside, north of Berlin.
Angela Merkel was a member of the official, socialist-led youth movement Free German Youth (FDJ). Thereafter, she also became a member of the district board and secretary for "Agitprop" (agitation and propaganda), at the Academy of Sciences. Even though she was brought up in socialist German Democratic Republic, she never became a participant in the secular coming of age ceremony, Jugendweihe. Rather, she received confirmation.
Angela Merkel studied physics in Templin and at the University of Leipzig, from 1973 to 1978. For the next two years, from 1978 to 1990, she worked and studied at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences, in Berlin-Adlershof. In 1977, she married the physics student Ulrich Merkel, but got divorced in 1982. Angela has done doctoral thesis on Quantum Chemistry and received a doctorate for the same and also undertaken research work. She married Joachim Sauer, a chemistry professor in 1988.
Political Initiation and Later Life
Angela Merkel stepped into politics in 1989, when she joined the new party Demokratischer Aufbruch, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. After the first (and the only) democratic election of the East German state, she became the deputy spokesperson of the new pre-unification caretaker government, under Lothar de Maizière. Angela was elected to the Bundestag, from a constituency including Nordvorpommern district, Rügen district and the city of Stralsund, in December 1990 and it continued to be her electoral district till today.
She became Minister for Women and Youth in Helmut Kohl's 3rd cabinet, after her party’s merger with West German CDU. In 1994, she was made Minister for the Environment and Reactor Safety, the post which served as foundation of her political career. With the defeat of the Kohl government, in the 1998 general election, Merkel was made the Secretary-General of the CDU. A financial scandal rocked her party in 1999, after which she advocated a fresh start without her mentor, Kohl, and was elected to become the first female chairperson of the party.
Leader of Opposition
The defeat of Stoiber (leader of Bavarian Christian Social Union or CSU, CDU’s sister party) in 2002 led to her to becoming the ‘Leader of the Conservative Opposition’, in Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament. During this time, she supported reform agenda relating to Germany's economic and social system, along with changes to German labor law. She even advocated for slower phasing out of Germany's nuclear power, apart from a strong transatlantic partnership and German-American friendship. The support of ‘Iraq-invasion’ and ‘privileged partnership’ to Turkey in EU were some of her other policies.
Chancellor of Germany
Angela Merkel was sworn in as the ‘Chancellor of Germany’ on 22nd November 2005. She leads a Grand coalition, comprising of CDU’s sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). She has been following pro-free-market reform agenda since then, apart from advocating a strong German-American relationship. She has made serious efforts to overhaul government's health care system, along with the burdensome corporate tax policies. Merkel has also made her strict budgetary impact on the extensive European Union budget debates. In 2007, she offered Europe's help to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Recently, she expressed Germany’s support for Israel, during a speech to the Knesset.