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Merkel

Taylor  |  Texas

Angela Merkel Security Conference February 2015 (cropped).jpg

Angela Dorothea Merkel (née Kasner, born 17 July 1954) is a German politician and a former research scientist who has been the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since 2000 and the Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She is the first woman and the first former citizen of the German Democratic Republic to hold either office.

Having earned a doctorate as a physical chemist, Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989, briefly serving as the deputy spokesperson for the first democratically elected East German Government in 1990. Following the German reunification in 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag for Stralsund-Nordvorpommern-Rügen in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a seat she has held ever since. She was later appointed as the Federal Minister for Women and Youth in 1991 under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and became the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety in 1994, serving until 1998. After the CDU/CSU-FDP coalition was defeated in 1998, she was elected Secretary-General of the CDU before being elected the party's leader in 2000 in the aftermath of the CDU donations scandal, which toppled party chairman Helmut Kohl and his successor Wolfgang Schäuble.

Following the 2005 federal election, she was appointed Germany's first female Chancellor at the head of a grand coalition consisting of her own CDU party, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In the 2009 federal election, the CDU obtained the largest share of the vote, and Merkel was able to form a coalition government with the support of the CSU, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). At the 2013 federal election, Merkel led the CDU/CSU to a landslide victory with 41.5% of the vote and formed a second grand coalition with the SPD, after the FDP lost all of its representation in the Bundestag.

In 2007, Merkel was President of the European Council and chaired the G8, the second woman (after Margaret Thatcher) to do so. She played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration. One of her priorities was also to strengthen transatlantic economic relations by signing the agreement for the Transatlantic Economic Council on 30 April 2007. Merkel is seen as playing a crucial role in managing the financial crisis at the European and international level, and has been referred to as "the decider." In domestic policy, health care reform and problems concerning future energy development have been major issues of her tenure.

Angela Merkel has been described as the de facto leader of the European Union, and was ranked as the world's second most powerful person by Forbes magazine in 2013, the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman; she is now ranked fifth. On 26 March 2014, she became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union. On 28 May 2014, she was named the most powerful woman in the world, also by Forbes.

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