German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives a cake with the words “Thank You” as she attends a campaign rally with the Premier of North Rhine-Westphalia and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and candidate for the office. Prime Minister Armin Laschet, before the election on September 26, in Aachen, September 25 – Photo: REUTERS
Youth Online review the main milestones in the 16 years of running the country of Germany’s first female chancellor, Angela Merkel (67 years old).
According to Germany’s DW radio, former Chancellor Helmut Kohl once called Merkel “my girl” in the sense that she was a close ally. However, she stepped out of his shadow in 2001 when she led the Christian Democratic Party (CDU).
Angela Merkel was the first woman to run for the top leadership position of the country. Although she is not a new face in politics, having served as a minister twice, she still represents a change of conservatives under the leadership of Mr. Helmut Kohl.
The CDU Party won the election on September 18, 2005. A month later, she was chosen as the leader of the coalition government with the Social Democratic Party (SPD). At the age of 51, she is the youngest chancellor in German history. From here, the Merkel era begins.
Mrs. Merkel in campaign posters in 2005 – Photo: DW
She must deal with the debt crisis in the euro area and work with European leaders to prevent the dissolution of the European Union (EU). From around the end of 2009, EU members such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland… struggled to refinance public debt.
A default could jeopardize the stability of the Euro (the EU’s common currency) and hurt Europe’s economy as a whole. Merkel pushed for draconian austerity and increased oversight to avert this crisis.
However, her offer of help, accompanied by austerity requirements, did not go well in Greece. Here, the Greek press compared her image to the time when the Nazis occupied the country during the Second World War.
The image of Mrs. Merkel is compared to the leader of the Nazis in Greece – Photo: DW
Angela Merkel’s position as chancellor is fiercely challenged as Germany faces immigration problems from an influx of more than 1 million war refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern neighbours. Despite criticism from many far-right and radical groups in Germany, Ms. Merkel stood firm and granted permission for hundreds of thousands of asylum applications.
Angela Merkel repeatedly called on EU countries to show greater solidarity and unity on immigration issues. During this year, she received the magazine Time chosen as Person of the Year for showing her courage in the face of many crises, whether financial, social or political.
Mrs. Merkel was chosen by Time magazine as Person of the Year 2015 – Photo: DW
While many Western countries have struggled to keep the death rate from COVID-19 from skyrocketing, Merkel has prevented the disease from having devastating consequences in Germany. Compared to other developed countries, Germany’s response to the pandemic has received very positive reviews.
According to DW Radio, Mrs. Merkel is not a great person when it comes to public speaking. Her speeches are often faltering and she rarely goes into policy. However, her pragmatism and humility and quietness were widely supported. This has helped her win support during 4 terms.
Photographs show her often keeping her hands together to create a diamond shape. She said this move helps her stand up straight. The CDU Party also used the diamond symbol on its campaign posters for the 2013 general election with the message of sustainability and trust.
Election poster with the image of a hand forming a diamond symbol symbolizing the trust and sustainability of CDU – Photo: DW
Mrs. Merkel is very secretive about her private life. The public only knew that her husband, Joachim Sauer, was a scientist.
According to the newspaper The local Germany, immediately after the election, whatever the outcome, Mrs. Merkel and her government will still run the country for about 6 months to 1 year until a new government is formed.