Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

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Angela Dorothea Merkel (aŋˈɡeːla doʁoˈteːa ˈmɛʁkl̩; née Kasner; born 17 July 1954) is the current Chancellor of Germany
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

 (since 22 November 2005). Merkel, elected to the Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

 (German Parliament) from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

 (CDU) since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU (Christian Social Union
Christian Social Union of Bavaria
The Christian Social Union in Bavaria is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It operates only in the state of Bavaria, while its sister party, the Christian Democratic Union , operates in the other 15 states of Germany...

) parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.

From 2005 to 2009 she led a grand coalition
Grand Coalition (Germany)
In modern Germany, grand coalition describes a governing coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, as they are the two largest parties.-Weimar Republic:...

 with the Christian Social Union
Christian Social Union of Bavaria
The Christian Social Union in Bavaria is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It operates only in the state of Bavaria, while its sister party, the Christian Democratic Union , operates in the other 15 states of Germany...

 (CSU), its Bavarian sister party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 (SPD), formed after the 2005 federal election
German federal election, 2005
German federal elections took place on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th German Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany. They became necessary after a motion of confidence in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder failed on 1 July...

 on 22 November 2005. In the elections of 27 September 2009, her party, the CDU, obtained the largest share of the votes, and formed a coalition government with the CSU and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). Her government was sworn in on 28 October 2009.

In 2007, Merkel was also President of the European Council
President of the European Council
The President of the European Council is a principal representative of the European Union on the world stage, and the person presiding over and driving forward the work of the European Council...

 and chaired the G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

. She played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon
Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon of 1668 was a peace treaty between Portugal and Spain, concluded at Lisbon on 13 February 1668, through the mediation of England, in which Spain recognized the sovereignty of Portugal's new ruling dynasty, the House of Braganza....

 and the Berlin Declaration
Berlin Declaration (2007)
The Berlin Declaration is a non-binding European Union text that was signed on 25 March 2007 in Berlin , celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome which founded the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the modern...

. In domestic policy, health care reform
Health care reform
Health care reform is a general rubric used for discussing major health policy creation or changes—for the most part, governmental policy that affects health care delivery in a given place...

 and problems concerning future energy development
Energy development
Energy development is the effort to provide sufficient primary energy sources and secondary energy forms for supply, cost, impact on air pollution and water pollution, mitigation of climate change with renewable energy....

 have thus far been major issues of her tenure.

Merkel is the first female Chancellor of Germany
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

. In 2007, she became the second woman to chair the G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

, after Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

. In November 2011 she became the longest-serving leader of a G8 country. Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

 has named her as the most powerful woman in the world 2006 to 2009 and since 2011.

Early life


Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, the daughter of Horst Kasner
Horst Kasner
Horst Kasner was a German Protestant theologian and father of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.-Biography:...

 (6 August 1926 in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

-Pankow
Pankow
Pankow is the third borough of Berlin. In Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was merged with the former boroughs of Prenzlauer Berg and Weißensee; the resulting borough retained the name Pankow.- Overview :...

 – 2 September 2011), a Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 pastor
Pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

, and his wife, Herlind (born 8 July 1928 in Danzig/Gdańsk, as Herlind Jentzsch), a teacher of English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. Her mother was once a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

. Her grandparents on her mother's side, one of them being Masurian, lived in Elbing
Elblag
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland with 127,892 inhabitants . It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. Before then it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship and a county seat in Gdańsk Voivodeship...

/Elbląg in East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

. Merkel stated that she is one quarter Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 in an interview with Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

in 2000. She has a brother, Marcus (born 7 July 1957), and a sister, Irene (born 19 August 1964).

Merkel's father studied theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 in Heidelberg
Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

 and, afterwards, in Hamburg. In 1954 her father received a pastorate at the church in Quitzow (near Perleberg in Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

), which then was in East Germany, and the family moved to Templin
Templin
Templin is a small town in the Uckermark district of Brandenburg, Germany. Though it has a population of only 17,127 , it is with 377.01 km2 the second largest town in Brandenburg and the seventh largest town in Germany by area...

. Thus Merkel grew up in the countryside 80 km (49.7 mi) north of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. Gerd Langguth
Gerd Langguth
Gerd Langguth is a professor of political science at the University of Bonn and the author of biographies of Angela Merkel and Horst Köhler...

, a former senior member of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, states in his book that the family's ability to travel freely from East to West Germany during the following years, as well as their possession of two automobiles, leads to the conclusion that Merkel's father had a "sympathetic" relationship with the communist regime, since such freedom and perquisites for a Christian pastor and his family would have been otherwise impossible in East Germany.

Like most pupils, Merkel was a member of the official, Socialist
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

-led youth movement Free German Youth (FDJ)
Free German Youth
The Free German Youth, also known as the FDJ , was the official socialist youth movement of the German Democratic Republic and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany....

. However, she did not take part in the secular coming of age
Coming of age
Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood to adulthood. The age at which this transition takes place varies in society, as does the nature of the transition. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual, as practiced by many societies...

 ceremony Jugendweihe
Jugendweihe
Jugendweihe is a secular coming of age ceremony practiced by German 14 year olds. It originated among the secular societies in the 19th century as an alternative to Confirmation by the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches...

, which was common in East Germany, and was confirmed instead. Later, at the Academy of Sciences, she became a member of the FDJ district board and secretary for "Agitprop
Agitprop
Agitprop is derived from agitation and propaganda, and describes stage plays, pamphlets, motion pictures and other art forms with an explicitly political message....

" (Agitation and Propaganda). Merkel herself claimed that she was secretary for culture. When Merkel's onetime FDJ district chairman contradicted her, she insisted that: "According to my memory, I was secretary for culture. But what do I know? I believe I won't know anything when I'm 80." Merkel's progress in the compulsory Marxism-Leninism course was graded only genügend (sufficient, passing grade) in 1983 and 1986.

Merkel was educated in Templin and at the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

, where she studied physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 from 1973 to 1978. While a student, she participated in the reconstruction of the ruin of the Moritzbastei
Moritzbastei
The Moritzbastei is the only remaining part of the ancient town fortifications of Leipzig. Today it is widely known as a cultural centre.- History of the building :...

, a project students initiated to create their own club and recreation facility on campus. Such an initiative was unprecedented in the GDR of that period, and initially resisted by the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

. However, with backing of the local leadership of the SED
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 party, the project was allowed to proceed. Merkel worked and studied at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry
Physical chemistry
Physical chemistry is the study of macroscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate phenomena in chemical systems in terms of physical laws and concepts...

 of the Academy of Sciences
German Academy of Sciences Berlin
The German Academy of Sciences at Berlin , later renamed Academy of Sciences of the German Democratic Republic was the most important research institution of East Germany.The academy was founded in 1946 by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany to continue the long tradition of the...

 in Berlin-Adlershof
Adlershof
-External links:*...

 from 1978 to 1990. She learned to speak Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 fluently, and earned a statewide prize for her proficiency. After being awarded a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 (Dr. rer. nat.) for her thesis on quantum chemistry
Quantum chemistry
Quantum chemistry is a branch of chemistry whose primary focus is the application of quantum mechanics in physical models and experiments of chemical systems...

, she worked as a researcher and published several papers.

In 1989, Merkel got involved in the growing democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 movement after the fall of the Berlin Wall, joining the new party Democratic Awakening. Following the first (and only) democratic election of the East German state, she became the deputy spokesperson of the new pre-unification caretaker government under Lothar de Maizière
Lothar de Maizière
Lothar de Maizière is a German christian democratic politician. In 1990, he served as the only democratically elected Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic, and as such was the last leader of an independent East Germany....

.

Member of Bundestag and cabinet minister


At the first post-reunification general election
German federal election, 1990
The 12th German federal election, 1990 was conducted on December 2, 1990, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany...

 in December 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag from the constituency Stralsund – Nordvorpommern – Rügen, which is coextensive with the district
Districts of Germany
The districts of Germany are known as , except in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein where they are known simply as ....

 of Vorpommern-Rügen
Vorpommern-Rügen
Vorpommern-Rügen is a district in the north of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. It is bounded by the Baltic Sea and the districts Vorpommern-Greifswald, Mecklenburgische Seenplatte and Rostock...

. This has remained her electoral district until today. Her party merged with the west German CDU and she became Minister for Women and Youth in Helmut Kohl
Helmut Kohl
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl is a German conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1973 to 1998...

's 3rd cabinet. In 1994, she was made Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety, which gave her greater political visibility and a platform on which to build her political career. As one of Kohl's protégées and his youngest cabinet minister, she was referred to by Kohl as "mein Mädchen" ("my girl").

Leader of the opposition



When the Kohl government was defeated in the 1998 general election
German federal election, 1998
A German federal election was conducted on September 27, 1998, to elect members to the 14th Bundestag, the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany.- Issues and campaign :...

, Merkel was named Secretary-General of the CDU. In this position, Merkel oversaw a string of Christian Democrat election victories in six out of seven state elections in 1999 alone, breaking the SPD-Green coalition's hold on the Bundesrat
Bundesrat of Germany
The German Bundesrat is a legislative body that represents the sixteen Länder of Germany at the federal level...

, the legislative body representing the states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

. Following a party financing scandal
1999 CDU contributions scandal
In late 1999, it was discovered that the German Christian Democratic Union political party had accepted illegal donations while under the control of Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the 1990s...

, which compromised many leading figures of the CDU (most notably Kohl himself, who refused to reveal the donor of DM 2,000,000 claiming he had given his word of honour and the then party chairman Wolfgang Schäuble
Wolfgang Schäuble
Wolfgang Schäuble is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union , currently serving as the Federal Minister of Finance in the Second Cabinet Merkel....

, Kohl's hand-picked successor, who wasn't cooperative either), Merkel criticized her former mentor, Kohl, and advocated a fresh start for the party without him. She was elected to replace Schäuble, becoming the first female chair of her party, on 10 April 2000. Her election surprised many observers, as her personality offered a contrast to the party she had been chosen to lead; Merkel is a Protestant, originating from predominantly Protestant northern Germany, while the CDU is a male-dominated, socially conservative party with strongholds in western and southern Germany, and the Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has deep Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 roots.

Following Merkel's election as CDU leader, she enjoyed considerable popularity among the German population and was favoured by many Germans to become Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 challenger in the 2002 election
German federal election, 2002
The 15th German federal election, 2002 was conducted on 22 September 2002, to elect members to the Bundestag of Germany.-Issues and campaign:...

. However, she did not receive enough support in her own party and particularly its sister party (the Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n Christian Social Union, or CSU), and was subsequently out-manoeuvred politically by CSU leader Edmund Stoiber
Edmund Stoiber
Edmund Rüdiger Stoiber is a German politician, former minister-president of the state of Bavaria and former chairman of the Christian Social Union...

, to whom she eventually ceded the privilege of challenging Schröder; however, he squandered a large lead in the opinion polls to lose the election by a razor-thin margin. After Stoiber's defeat in 2002, in addition to her role as CDU chairwoman, Merkel became leader of the conservative opposition in the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

. Her rival, Friedrich Merz
Friedrich Merz
Friedrich Merz is a German politician, former chairman of the major centre-right party CDU and currently a member of the German parliament, the Bundestag...

, who had held the post of parliamentary leader prior to the 2002 election, was eased out to make way for Merkel.

Merkel supported a substantial reform
Reform movement
A reform movement is a kind of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than rapid or fundamental changes...

 agenda concerning Germany's economic and social system and was considered to be more pro-market
Market
A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers...

 than her own party (the CDU); she advocated changes to German labour law, specifically removing barriers to laying off employees and increasing the allowed number of work hours in a week, arguing that existing laws made the country less competitive because companies cannot easily control labour costs at times when business is slow.

Merkel argued for Germany's nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 to be phased out less quickly than the Schröder administration had planned.

Merkel advocated a strong transatlantic partnership and German-American friendship. In the spring of 2003, defying strong public opposition, Merkel came out in favour of the U.S. invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, describing it as "unavoidable" and accusing Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 of anti-Americanism
Anti-Americanism
The term Anti-Americanism, or Anti-American Sentiment, refers to broad opposition or hostility to the people, policies, culture or government of the United States...

. She criticised the government's support for the accession of Turkey to the European Union
Accession of Turkey to the European Union
Turkey's application to accede to the European Union was made on 14 April 1987. Turkey has been an associate member of the European Union and its predecessors since 1963...

 and favoured a "privileged partnership
Privileged partnership
Privileged partnership is the term coined by the German conservative party CDU for their model of the future relation between Turkey and the European Union, which falls short of full membership...

" instead. In doing so, she reflected public opinion that grew more hostile toward Turkish membership of the European Union.

Rise to power


On 30 May 2005, Merkel won the CDU/CSU nomination as challenger to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 of the SPD
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 in the 2005 national elections
German federal election, 2005
German federal elections took place on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th German Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany. They became necessary after a motion of confidence in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder failed on 1 July...

. Her party began the campaign with a 21 point lead over the SPD
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 in national opinion poll
Opinion poll
An opinion poll, sometimes simply referred to as a poll is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence...

s, although her personal popularity lagged behind that of the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

. However, the CDU/CSU campaign suffered when Merkel, having made economic competence central to the CDU's platform, confused gross
Gross income
Gross income in United States tax law is receipts and gains from all sources less cost of goods sold. Gross income is the starting point for determining Federal and state income tax of individuals, corporations, estates and trusts, whether resident or nonresident."Except as otherwise provided" by...

 and net income
Net income
Net income is the residual income of a firm after adding total revenue and gains and subtracting all expenses and losses for the reporting period. Net income can be distributed among holders of common stock as a dividend or held by the firm as an addition to retained earnings...

 twice during a televised debate. She regained some momentum after she announced that she would appoint Paul Kirchhof
Paul Kirchhof
Paul Kirchhof is a German jurist and tax law expert. He is also a professor of law, member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and a former judge in the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany , the highest court in Germany.Kirchhof obtained a doctorate at the early age of 25 having...

, a former judge at the German Constitutional Court and leading fiscal policy expert, as Minister of Finance.

Merkel and the CDU lost ground after Kirchhof proposed the introduction of a flat tax
Flat tax
A flat tax is a tax system with a constant marginal tax rate. Typically the term flat tax is applied in the context of an individual or corporate income that will be taxed at one marginal rate...

 in Germany, again undermining the party's broad appeal on economic affairs and convincing many voters that the CDU's platform of deregulation was designed to benefit only the rich. This was compounded by Merkel proposing to increase VAT
Vat
Vat or VAT may refer to:* A type of container such as a barrel, storage tank, or tub, often constructed of welded sheet stainless steel, and used for holding, storing, and processing liquids such as milk, wine, and beer...

 to reduce Germany's deficit and fill the gap in revenue from a flat tax. The SPD were able to increase their support simply by pledging not to introduce flat taxes or increase VAT. Although Merkel's standing recovered after she distanced herself from Kirchhof's proposals, she remained considerably less popular than Schröder, and the CDU's lead was down to 9% on the eve of the election.

On 18 September 2005, Merkel's CDU/CSU and Schröder's SPD went head-to-head in the national elections, with the CDU/CSU winning 35.3% (CDU 27.8%/CSU 7.5%) of the second votes to the SPD's 34.2%. Neither the SPD-Green coalition nor the CDU/CSU and its preferred coalition partners, the Free Democratic Party
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

, held enough seats to form a majority in the Bundestag, and both Schröder and Merkel claimed victory. A grand coalition
Grand coalition
A grand coalition is an arrangement in a multi-party parliamentary system in which the two largest political parties of opposing political ideologies unite in a coalition government...

 between the CDU/CSU and SPD faced the challenge that both parties demanded the chancellorship. However, after three weeks of negotiations, the two parties reached a deal whereby Merkel would become Chancellor and the SPD would hold 8 of the 16 seats in the cabinet. The coalition deal was approved by both parties at party conferences on 14 November 2005. Merkel was elected Chancellor by the majority of delegates (397 to 217) in the newly assembled Bundestag on 22 November 2005, but 51 members of the governing coalition voted against her.


Reports had indicated that the grand coalition would pursue a mix of policies, some of which differ from Merkel's political platform as leader of the opposition and candidate for Chancellor. The coalition's intent was to cut public spending whilst increasing VAT
Vat
Vat or VAT may refer to:* A type of container such as a barrel, storage tank, or tub, often constructed of welded sheet stainless steel, and used for holding, storing, and processing liquids such as milk, wine, and beer...

 (from 16 to 19%), social insurance
Social insurance
Social insurance is any government-sponsored program with the following four characteristics:* the benefits, eligibility requirements and other aspects of the program are defined by statute;...

 contributions and the top rate of income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

.

Merkel had stated that the main aim of her government would be to reduce unemployment, and that it is this issue on which her government will be judged.

Chancellor of Germany


On 22 November 2005, Merkel assumed the office of Chancellor of Germany following a stalemate election
German federal election, 2005
German federal elections took place on 18 September 2005 to elect the members of the 16th German Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany. They became necessary after a motion of confidence in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder failed on 1 July...

 that resulted in a grand coalition
Grand Coalition (Germany)
In modern Germany, grand coalition describes a governing coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, as they are the two largest parties.-Weimar Republic:...

 with the SPD
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

. She was re-elected in 2009 with a larger majority and was able to form a governing coalition with the FDP
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

.

Foreign policy



On 25 September 2007, Chancellor Angela Merkel met the Dalai Lama for "private and informal talks" in Berlin in the Chancellery
German Chancellery
The German Chancellery is a federal agency serving the executive office of the Chancellor, the head of the German federal government. The chief of the Chancellery holds the rank of either a Secretary of State or a Federal Minister ...

 amid protest from China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. China afterwards cancelled separate talks with German officials, including talks with Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries
Brigitte Zypries
Brigitte Zypries is a German politician. She was Federal Minister of Justice of Germany from 2002 to 2009. She is member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .- Career :...

.

Der Spiegel reported that tensions between Chancellor Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama were eased during a meeting between the two leaders in June 2009. Commenting on a White House Press Conference held after the meeting, Spiegel stated, "Of course the rather more reserved chancellor couldn't really keep up with [Obama's]...charm offensive," but to reciprocate for Obama's "good natured" diplomacy, "she gave it a go...by mentioning the experiences of Obama's sister in Heidelberg, making it clear that she had read his autobiography".

Russia


In 2006 Merkel expressed concern for overreliance on Russian energy
Russia in the European energy sector
Russia has a significant role in the European energy sector as the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union. In 2007, the European Union imported from Russia 185 million tonnes of crude oil, which accounted for 32.6% of total oil import, and 100.7 million tonnes of...

, but she received little support from others in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

.

Iran


According to the news agency Mehr (as reported in the Mail & Guardian Online and Deutsche Welle, quoting AFP), in August 2006, Merkel received a letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. According to the reports, Merkel said that the letter contained "unacceptable" criticism of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and "put in question" the Jewish state's right to exist, and that therefore she would not formally respond to the letter.

Israel


On 16 March 2008, Merkel arrived in Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state
Yom Ha'atzmaut
Yom Ha'atzmaut commemorates Israel's declaration of Independence in 1948. It is celebrated on 5 Iyar according to the Hebrew calendar. Yom Ha'atzmaut is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.-History:...

. She was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

, an honor guard and many of the country's political and religious leaders, including most of the Israeli Cabinet. Until then, US President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 had been the only world leader Olmert had bestowed with the honor of greeting at the airport. Merkel spoke before Israel's parliament
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

, the only foreigner who was not a head of state to have done so, although this provoked rumbles of opposition from Israeli MPs on the far right. At the time, Merkel was also both the President of the European Council
President of the European Council
The President of the European Council is a principal representative of the European Union on the world stage, and the person presiding over and driving forward the work of the European Council...

 and the chair of the G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

, thus arguably the world's most influential person. Merkel has supported Israeli diplomatic initiatives, opposing the Palestinian bid for membership at the UN. However, Merkel was offended when settlement building continued beyond the Green Line, and felt personally betrayed by the Israeli governments behavior.

Liquidity crisis


Following major falls in worldwide stock markets in September 2008, the German government stepped in to assist the mortgage
Mortgage loan
A mortgage loan is a loan secured by real property through the use of a mortgage note which evidences the existence of the loan and the encumbrance of that realty through the granting of a mortgage which secures the loan...

 company Hypo Real Estate
Hypo Real Estate
The Hypo Real Estate Holding AG is a holding company based in Munich, Germany which comprises a number of real estate financing banks. The company's activities span three sectors of the real estate market: commercial property, infrastructure and public finance, and capital markets and asset...

 with a bailout which was agreed on October 6, with German banks to contribute €30 billion and the Bundesbank
Deutsche Bundesbank
The Deutsche Bundesbank is the central bank of the Federal Republic of Germany and as such part of the European System of Central Banks . Due to its strength and former size, the Bundesbank is the most influential member of the ESCB. Both the Deutsche Bundesbank and the European Central Bank are...

 €20 billion to a credit line.

On 4 October 2008, a Saturday, following the Irish Government's decision to guarantee all deposits in private savings accounts, a move she strongly criticized, Merkel said there were no plans for the German Government to do the same. The following day, Merkel stated that the government would guarantee private savings account deposits, after all. However, two days later, on 6 October 2008, it emerged that the pledge was simply a political move that would not be backed by legislation. Other European governments eventually either raised the limits or promised to guarantee savings in full.

India


In 2011, India became the first Asian country to hold a joint cabinet meeting with Germany when Merkel visited.

Failure of multiculturalism


In October 2010 Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 that attempts to build a multicultural
Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

 society in Germany had "utterly failed", stating: "The concept that we are now living side by side and are happy about it does not work" and that "we feel attached to the Christian concept of mankind, that is what defines us. Anyone who doesn't accept that is in the wrong place here." She continued to say that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values. This has added to a growing debate within Germany on the levels of immigration, its effect on Germany and the degree to which Muslim immigrants have integrated into German society.

Approval


Midway through her second term, Merkel's approval plummeted in the country, resulting in heavy losses in state elections for her party. A poll in August 2011 found her coalition with only 36% support compared to a rival coalition which had 51%.

Cabinets


The first cabinet of Angela Merkel was sworn in at 16:00 CET
Central European Time
Central European Time , used in most parts of the European Union, is a standard time that is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time . The time offset from UTC can be written as +01:00...

, on 22 November 2005.

On 31 October 2005, after the defeat of his favoured candidate for the position of Secretary General of the SPD, Franz Müntefering
Franz Müntefering
Franz Müntefering is a German politician and industrial manager. He was Chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 18 October 2008 to 13 November 2009, a position he already held from 2004 to 2005...

 indicated that he would resign as Chairman of the party in November, which he did. Ostensibly responding to this, Edmund Stoiber
Edmund Stoiber
Edmund Rüdiger Stoiber is a German politician, former minister-president of the state of Bavaria and former chairman of the Christian Social Union...

 (CSU), who was originally nominated for the Economics and Technology post, announced his withdrawal on 1 November 2005. While this was initially seen as a blow to Merkel's attempt at forming a viable coalition and cabinet, the manner in which Stoiber withdrew earned him much ridicule and severely undermined his position as a Merkel rival. Separate conferences of the CDU, CSU, and SPD approved the proposed Cabinet on 14 November 2005

The second cabinet of Angela Merkel
Cabinet Merkel II
The Merkel Cabinet II is the current government of Germany since October 28, 2009, during the 17th legislature of the Bundestag. Led by the Christian Democrat Angela Merkel , it is supported by a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union , Christian Social Union of Bavaria and the Free...

 was sworn in on 28 October 2009.

Personal life


In 1977, Angela Kasner married physics student Ulrich Merkel. The marriage ended in divorce in 1982. Her second and current husband is quantum chemist and professor Joachim Sauer
Joachim Sauer
Joachim Sauer is a German quantum chemist, full professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He is the husband of the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.- Scientific career :...

, who has largely remained out of the media spotlight. They first met in 1981, became partners later and married privately on 30 December 1998. She has no children, but Sauer has two adult sons from a previous marriage.

Honours


In 2006, Angela Merkel was awarded the Vision for Europe Award
Vision for Europe Award
The Vision for Europe Award is an honour that has been bestowed annually since 1995 by the non-profit Edmond Israel Foundation in "recognition of outstanding achievements in taking Europe into the future."...

 for her contribution toward greater European integration. In 2007, Merkel was awarded an honorary doctorate
Honorary degree
An honorary degree or a degree honoris causa is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations...

 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

. In March 2006, the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers gave the German Chancellor the recognition of Dama di Gran Croce Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.

She received the Karlspreis
Karlspreis
- See also :*Charlemagne*European integration*Leipzig Human Rights Award, originally called the "Alternative Charlemagne Award", formed in opposition to Clinton's recognition with the award- External links :* http://www.karlspreis.de/ *...

(Charlemagne Prize) for 2008 for distinguished services to European unity.

In January 2008, Merkel was awarded Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. She was also awarded the honorary doctorate from Leipzig University in June 2008, University of Technology in Wrocław (Poland) in September 2008 and Babeş-Bolyai University
Babes-Bolyai University
The Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca is an university in Romania. With almost 50,000 students, the university offers 105 specialisations, of which there are 105 in Romanian, 67 in Hungarian, 17 in German, and 5 in English...

 from Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca , commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth most populous city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest , Budapest and Belgrade...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 on 12 October 2010 for her historical contribution to the European unification and for her global role in renewing international cooperation. In March 2008 she received the B’nai B’rith Europe Award of Merit.

From 2006 to 2009, Forbes Magazine has named her the most powerful woman in the world.







New Statesman
New Statesman
New Statesman is a British centre-left political and cultural magazine published weekly in London. Founded in 1913, and connected with leading members of the Fabian Society, the magazine reached a circulation peak in the late 1960s....

named Angela Merkel in "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures" 2010.

On June 16, 2010, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

in Washington D.C. awarded Chancellor Merkel its Global Leadership Award (AICGS) in recognition of her outstanding dedication to strengthening German-American relations.

On September 21, 2010, the Leo Baeck Institute
Leo Baeck Institute
The Leo Baeck Institute-New York in Manhattan is a library, archive, and exhibition centre devoted to the study of the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry. The Institutes's offices and collections are housed in Center for Jewish History in New York City...

, a research institution in New York City devoted to the history of German-speaking Jewry, awarded Angela Merkel the Leo Baeck Medal. The medal was presented by former US Secretary of the Treasury and current Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin, W. Michael Blumenthal, who cited Merkel's support of Jewish cultural life and the integration of minorities in Germany.

On 15 February 2011, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

 from U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

. The medal is presented to people who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

On 31 May 2011, she received the Jawaharlal Nehru Award
Jawaharlal Nehru Award
Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding is an international award presented by the Government of India. It was founded in 1965 and is administered by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations to people "for their outstanding contribution to the promotion of international...

 for the year 2009 from the Indian government. She received the award for International understanding.

Comparisons


As a female politician from a centre right party, and a scientist, Merkel has been compared by many in the English-language press to former British Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

. Some have referred to her as "Iron Lady
Iron Lady
Iron Lady is a nickname that has frequently been used to describe female heads of government around the world. The term describes a "strong willed" woman...

", "Iron Girl", and even "The Iron Frau" (all alluding to Thatcher, whose nickname was "The Iron Lady"—Thatcher also has a science degree: an Oxford University degree in chemistry). Political commentators have debated the precise extent to which their agendas are similar. Later in her tenure, Merkel acquired the nickname
Nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

 "Mutti" (a familiar form of 'mother'), said by Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

to refer to an idealised mother figure from the 1950s and 1960s.

In addition to being the first female German chancellor and the youngest German chancellor since the Second World War, Merkel is also the first born after World War II, and the first with a background in natural sciences. She studied physics; her predecessors studied law, business or history or were military officers, among others.

Merkel topped Forbes magazine
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

's list of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women" in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011.

Controversy


Merkel has been criticised for being personally present and involved at the M100 Media Award handover to Danish cartoonist
Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began after 12 editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 30 September 2005...

 Kurt Westergaard
Kurt Westergaard
Kurt Westergaard is a Danish cartoonist who created the controversial cartoon of the Islamic prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban. This cartoon was the most contentious of the 12 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, which met with strong and sometimes violent reactions from Muslims worldwide...

. This happened at a time of fierce emotional debate in Germany over disparaging remarks about Muslim immigrants made by the former Deutsche Bundesbank
Deutsche Bundesbank
The Deutsche Bundesbank is the central bank of the Federal Republic of Germany and as such part of the European System of Central Banks . Due to its strength and former size, the Bundesbank is the most influential member of the ESCB. Both the Deutsche Bundesbank and the European Central Bank are...

 executive Thilo Sarrazin
Thilo Sarrazin
Thilo Sarrazin is a German politician and former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank...

. The Zentralrat der Muslime
Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland
The Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland is an Islamic federation in Germany. With 15,000 to 20,000 members, mainly German, German Arab, and German Turkish muslims, it has less than half the size of the Islamrat für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland.The Zentralrat was founded in 1994 by Nadeem...

 and the left party (Die Linke) as well as the German Green Party  criticised the action by the centre-right chancellor. The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper wrote: "This will probably be the most explosive appointment of her chancellorship so far." Others have praised Merkel and called it a brave and bold move for the cause of freedom of speech.

In September 2010 due to a debate of integration, Merkel said to the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper that "Germans will see more mosques".
In October 2010, following a speech by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany Christian Wulff
Christian Wulff
Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff is the President of Germany and a politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President on 2010 and publicly swore the oath of office on . A lawyer by profession, he served as Premier of the state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010.-Early life and...

 during the German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 day, she stated that "Islam is part of Germany".

Members of her cabinet and Merkel herself also support the idea of, and are already introducing, Islamic education and classes in schools.

External links



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