Written by Aanya Krishna – a grade 6 student.
Who is Angela Merkel?
Angela Merkel is a German politician best known as the first female Chancellor of Germany. She served as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a political party in East Germany from 2000 to 2018. She has been popularly described as the most powerful woman in the world and by some political commentators as the de facto leader of the free world.
Family and early years:
Angela Kasner Merkel was born on July 17, 1954, in Hamburg, Germany. The daughter of a Lutheran pastor and teacher, Merkel grew up in a rural area north of Berlin in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). She is the oldest of three siblings. Merkel is of German and Polish descent. Her paternal grandfather, Ludwik Kasner, was a German policeman of Polish ethnicity, who married Merkel’s grandmother, a German from Berlin. In 1930, they Germanized the Polish name Kaźmierczak to Kasner.
In 1977, Angela Kasner got married to physicist Ulrich Merkel, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1982. In 1998, in a private ceremony, Angela got remarried to Joachim Sauer, a Chemistry professor from Berlin. However, she kept her surname, Merkel, from her first marriage. She has no children.
In 1973, Merkel completed her high school in Templin, East Germany. Following this she studied physics at the University of Leipzig, earning a doctorate in 1978. She then worked at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin from 1978 to 1990. At the Academy of Sciences, Angela became a member of its FDJ secretariat. After being awarded a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry in 1986, she worked as a researcher.
Political life and journey:
Angela Merkel entered the world of politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. She joined East Germany’s new democratic party, Demokratischer Aufbruchfirst and she was chosen to be the deputy spokesperson for the new government. Soon after the unification of East and West Germany, Merkel’s party merged with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) where she was appointed as Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety. This post served as the foundation of her political career. Later in 2000, she was elected as party leader. Sadly, she lost the CDU candidacy for chancellor to Edmund Stoiber in the same year.
During her time as leader of the opposition, Merkel advocated several policy changes related to the German economic system and supported strong German-US relations. Although her policies were not always favoured by the Germans her popularity continued to grow.
Finally, in the 2005 elections, Angela narrowly defeated Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and went on to become Germany’s first female chancellor. Appointed at the age of 51 she was the youngest chancellor in German history. She was elected to a second term in 2009, third term in December 2013, and to her fourth term in September 2017.
Since being sworn as a chancellor for the first time in 2005, Merkel has been focused on healthcare and tax reforms, future energy development, and strengthening ties with the United States. Very recently, her government has been taking a strong supportive approach to the ongoing migrant crisis.
In October 2018, Merkel announced that she would stand down as Leader of the CDU and would not seek a fifth term as Chancellor in 2021.
Awards and achievements:
Forbes has named Angela Merkel the “Most Powerful Woman in the World” for as many as 12 times. She has also been twice ranked second, after Vladimir Putin in Forbes’s list of “The World’s Most Powerful Person,” which is considered to be the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman. In 2015, she was named as the Person of Year by Time’s magazine. She is a recipient of several national and international honours.
Some lesser-known facts about Angela Merkel:
- German supporters call her Mutti, which means “Mommy”
- Angela loves sports and is a fervent football fan. She is known to attend the games of the national team.
- Merkel has a fear of dogs after being attacked by one in 1995.
- Merkel has been compared by many to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
- In her very early years, Angela wanted to become a teacher for the Russian language and Physics.
Written by: Aanya Krishna
Aanya is a grade 6 student. A voracious reader she also loves to draw and doodle. Like her whole family, she is also a big foodie!
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