Angela Merkel

From Academic Kids

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel

Angela Dorothea Merkel (born Angela Dorothea Kasner, July 17, 1954 in Hamburg) is a German politician and the opposition's candidate to become Chancellor of Germany in the upcoming German federal election, 2005.

Merkel is chair of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000. She is a Member of the German Parliament, representing a constituency which includes the districts of Nordvorpommern and Rgen, as well as the city of Stralsund, in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.



Merkel grew up in the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the countryside north of Berlin. Her father was a Lutheran clergyman. She was educated in Templin and at the University of Leipzig, where she studied physics (1973-1978). Merkel worked and studied at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences (1978-1990). After graduating with a doctorate in physics she worked in quantum chemistry.

In 1989 she became involved in the growing democracy movement after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At the end of 1989 she joined the new party "Demokratischer Aufbruch". Following the first democratic election in the GDR, she got a job as deputy government spokesperson in the new government under Lothar de Maizire. Following the first German elections after reunification in December 1990, she became minister for women and youth in Helmut Kohl's cabinet. In 1994 she was made minister for the environment and reactor safety. Angela Merkel's political career was supported by the former Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl, who once referred to her as das Mdchen (the girl).

Her background from the former GDR has stood her in good stead. For the first 36 years of her life, she honed her skills at covering up or suppressing her feelings -- essential in a society where practically every room contained a Stasi informer, especially if you were a pastor's daughter. Speaking near perfect English and remarking on her background as an Ossi she says, "Anyone who really has something to say doesn't need make-up".

Opposition leader

When the Kohl government was voted out in 1998, Merkel was named as Secretary General of the CDU. As a result of a party financing scandal, which compromised many leading figures of the CDU, most notably Kohl himself and the then chairman, Wolfgang Schuble, Merkel spoke up against her former mentor Kohl and replaced Schuble and became the first female leader of her party. The election of Merkel was in many ways surprising; the CDU being a party with deep Catholic roots, west-oriented, conservative and male dominated.

Merkel has been compared by many to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Both being strong female politicans, as well as former scientists) and referred to (mainly outside of Germany) as "Iron Lady", or sometimes "Iron Girl". Sometimes she is also nicknamed "Angie" by the press.

In addition to be CDU chairwoman, she is heading the conservative opposition in the German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag, since 2002.

In spring 2003, against heavy public opposition, Merkel came out in favour of the Iraq war, describing it as "unavoidable". Schrder substantially owed his success in the 2002 federal elections to his strong opposition to American hegemony and "military adventures".

On 30 May 2005 she won the nomination of CDU and CSU as official challenger to Chancellor Gerhard Schrder of the SPD in the 2005 national elections. Currently, her party is significantly ahead in national opinion polls. If she is elected, she will be Germany's first woman chancellor, and the first woman to lead Germany since Empress Theophania (956-991).


Merkel fears that the EU has failed to define its common interests "for the (commercial) battles of the future" now Europe's cold war priorities of keeping "peace and freedom" have been achieved. "This is where I think Europe needs to learn a lot, not to concentrate too much on whether bicycle paths are built the same way in Portugal and north-west Germany."

Domestically, Merkel recognises the need for change in the country's consensual model. "In Germany, we are always facing the danger that we are a little bit too slow. We have to speed up our changes."


External links

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