|Height:||165 cm (5' 5'')|
|Birth Day:||July 17, 1954|
|Birth Place:||Hamburg, Germany|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|165 cm (5' 5'')||60 kg||Light Brown||Blue||N/A||N/A|
She joined the Christian Democratic Union party in 1990, and was appointed by Prime Minister Helmut Kohl as minister for women and children.
Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner in 1954, in Hamburg, West Germany, the daughter of Horst Kasner (1926–2011; né Kaźmierczak), a Lutheran pastor and a native of Berlin, and his wife Herlind (1928–2019; née Jentzsch), born in Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland), a teacher of English and Latin. She has two younger siblings, Marcus Kasner, a physicist, and Irene Kasner, an occupational therapist. In her childhood and youth, Merkel was known among her peers by the nickname "Kasi", derived from her last name Kasner.
Religion played a key role in the Kasner family's migration from West Germany to East Germany. Merkel's paternal grandfather was originally Catholic but the entire family converted to Lutheranism during the childhood of her father, who later studied Lutheran theology in Heidelberg and Hamburg. In 1954, when Angela was just three months old, her father received a pastorate at the church in Quitzow (a quarter of Perleberg in Brandenburg), which was then in East Germany. The family moved to Templin and Merkel grew up in the countryside 90 km (56 mi) north of East Berlin.
In 1968, Merkel joined the Free German Youth (FDJ), the official communist youth movement sponsored by the ruling Marxist–Leninist Socialist Unity Party of Germany. Membership was nominally voluntary, but those who did not join found it difficult to gain admission to higher education. She did not participate in the secular coming of age ceremony Jugendweihe, however, which was common in East Germany. Instead, she was confirmed. During this time, she participated in several compulsory courses on Marxism-Leninism with her grades only being regarded as "sufficient". Merkel later said that "Life in the GDR was sometimes almost comfortable in a certain way, because there were some things one simply couldn't influence."
Merkel is a fervent football fan and has been known to listen to games while in the Bundestag and to attend games of the national team in her official capacity. Merkel stated that her favorite movie is The Legend of Paul and Paula, an East German movie released in 1973.
In 1977, at the age of 23, Merkel, then Angela Kasner, married physics student Ulrich Merkel (born 1953) and took his surname. The marriage ended in divorce in 1982. Her second and current husband is quantum chemist and professor Joachim Sauer, who has largely remained out of the media spotlight. They first met in 1981, became a couple later and married privately on 30 December 1998. She has no children, but Sauer has two adult sons from a previous marriage.
After being awarded a doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) for her thesis on quantum chemistry in 1986, she worked as a researcher and published several papers. In 1986, she was able to travel freely to West Germany to attend a congress; she also participated in a multi-week language course in Donetsk, in the then-Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 served as the catalyst for Merkel's political career. Although she did not participate in the crowd celebrations the night the wall came down, one month later Merkel became involved in the growing democracy movement, joining the new party Democratic Awakening. Following the first (and only) multi-party election in East Germany, she became the deputy spokesperson of the new pre-unification caretaker government under Lothar de Maizière. Merkel had impressed de Maiziere with her adept dealing with journalists questioning the role of a party leader, Wolfgang Schnur, as an "informal co-worker" with the homeland security services. In April 1990, Democratic Awakening merged with the East German Christian Democratic Union, which in turn merged with its western counterpart after reunification.
Since 1991, Merkel has sat annually for sitting and standing portraits by, and interview with, Herlinde Koelbl.
In the German federal election of 1990, the first to be held following reunification, Merkel successfully stood for election to the Bundestag in the parliamentary constituency of Stralsund – Nordvorpommern – Rügen in north Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. She has won re-election from this constituency (renamed, with slightly adjusted borders, Vorpommern-Rügen – Vorpommern-Greifswald I in 2003) at the seven federal elections held since then. Almost immediately following her entry into parliament, Merkel was appointed by Chancellor Helmut Kohl to serve as Minister for Women and Youth in the federal cabinet. In 1994, she was promoted to the position of Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety, which gave her greater political visibility and a platform on which to build her personal political career. As one of Kohl's protégées and his youngest Cabinet Minister, she was frequently referred to by Kohl as "mein Mädchen" ("my girl").
Merkel has a fear of dogs after being attacked by one in 1995. Vladimir Putin, in a move reminiscent of Germany's first chancellor Otto von Bismarck and his Reichshunde, brought in his Labrador Retriever during a press conference in 2007. Putin claims he did not mean to scare her, though Merkel later observed, "I understand why he has to do this – to prove he's a man. ... He's afraid of his own weakness."
After the Kohl Government was defeated at the 1998 election, Merkel was appointed Secretary-General of the CDU, a key position as the party was no longer part of the federal government. Merkel oversaw a string of CDU election victories in six out of seven state elections in 1999, breaking the long-standing SPD-Green hold on the Bundesrat. Following a party funding scandal that compromised many leading figures of the CDU – including Kohl himself and his successor as CDU Leader, Wolfgang Schäuble – Merkel criticised her former mentor publicly and advocated a fresh start for the party without him. She was subsequently elected to replace Schäuble, becoming the first female leader of a German party on 10 April 2000. Her election surprised many observers, as her personality offered a contrast to the party she had been elected to lead; Merkel is a centrist 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 its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has deep Catholic roots.
Following Merkel's election as CDU Leader, the CDU was not able to win in subsequent state elections. As early as February 2001 her rival Friedrich Merz had made clear he intended to become Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's main challenger in the 2002 election. Merkel's own ambition to become Chancellor was well-known, but she lacked the support of most Minister-presidents and other grandees within her own party. She was subsequently outmaneuvered politically by CSU Leader Edmund Stoiber, to whom she eventually ceded the privilege of challenging Schröder. He went on to squander a large lead in opinion polls to lose the election by a razor-thin margin in an election campaign that was dominated by the Iraq War. While Chancellor Schröder made clear he would not join the war in Iraq, Merkel and the CDU-CSU supported the invasion of Iraq. After Stoiber's defeat in 2002, in addition to her role as CDU Leader, Merkel became Leader of the Opposition in the Bundestag; Friedrich Merz, who had held the post prior to the 2002 election, was eased out to make way for Merkel.
On 30 May 2005, Merkel won the CDU/CSU nomination as challenger to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the SPD in the 2005 national elections. Her party began the campaign with a 21-point lead over the SPD in national opinion polls, although her personal popularity lagged behind that of the incumbent. However, the CDU/CSU campaign suffered when Merkel, having made economic competence central to the CDU's platform, confused gross and net income twice during a televised debate. She regained some momentum after she announced that she would appoint Paul Kirchhof, a former judge at the German Constitutional Court and leading fiscal policy expert, as Minister of Finance.
On the eve of the election, Merkel was still favored to win a decisive victory based on opinion polls. 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 35.2% (CDU 27.8%/CSU 7.5%) of the second votes to the SPD's 34.2%. The result was so close, both Schröder and Merkel claimed victory. Neither the SPD-Green coalition nor the CDU/CSU and its preferred coalition partners, the Free Democratic Party, held enough seats to form a majority in the Bundestag. A grand coalition 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.
On 22 November 2005, Merkel assumed the office of Chancellor of Germany following a stalemate election that resulted in a grand coalition with the SPD. 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.
In recognition of the importance of China to the German economy, by 2014 Merkel had led seven trade delegations to China since assuming office in 2005. The same year, in March, China's President Xi Jinping visited Germany.
The first cabinet of Angela Merkel was sworn in at 16:00 CET 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 indicated that he would resign as party chairman, which he did in November. Ostensibly responding to this, Edmund Stoiber (CSU), who was originally nominated as Minister for Economics and Technology, announced his withdrawal on 1 November 2005. While this was initially seen as a blow to Merkel's attempt at forming a viable coalition, 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 was sworn in on 28 October 2009.
In 2006, Merkel expressed concern about overreliance on Russian energy, but she received little support from others in Berlin.
One of Merkel's priorities was strengthening transatlantic economic relations. She signed the agreement for the Transatlantic Economic Council on 30 April 2007 at the White House.
On 25 September 2007, Merkel met the 14th Dalai Lama for "private and informal talks" in the Chancellery in Berlin amid protest from China. China afterwards cancelled separate talks with German officials, including talks with Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries.
On 4 October 2008, following the Irish Government's decision to guarantee all deposits in private savings accounts, a move she strongly criticised, 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.
Her party was re-elected in 2009 with an increased number of seats, and could form a governing coalition with the FDP. This term was overshadowed by the European debt crisis. Conscription in Germany was abolished and the Bundeswehr became a Volunteer military. Unemployment sank below the mark of 3 million unemployed people.
In October 2010, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had "utterly failed", stating that: "The concept that we are now living side by side and are happy about it" does not work and "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.
Merkel favors the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union; but stated in December 2012 that its implementation depends on reforms in Ukraine.
Midway through her second term, Merkel's approval plummeted in Germany, resulting in heavy losses in state elections for her party. An August 2011 poll found her coalition had only 36% support compared to a rival potential coalition's 51%. However, she scored well on her handling of the recent euro crisis (69% rated her performance as good rather than poor), and her approval rating reached an all-time high of 77% in February 2012 and again in July 2014. Merkel's approval rating dropped to 54% in October 2015, during the European migrant crisis, the lowest since 2011. According to a poll conducted after terror attacks in Germany Merkel's approval rating dropped to 47% (August 2016). Half of Germans did not want her to serve a fourth term in office compared to 42% in favor. However, according to a poll taken in October 2016, her approval rating had been found to have risen again, 54% of Germans were found to be satisfied with work of Merkel as Chancellor. According to another poll taken in November 2016, 59% were to found to be in favour of a renewed Chancellor candidature of Merkel in 2017. According to a poll carried out just days after the 2016 Berlin truck attack, in which it was asked which political leader(s) Germans trust to solve their country's problems; 56% named Merkel, 39% Seehofer (CSU), 35% Gabriel (SPD), 32% Schulz (SPD), 25% Özdemir (Greens), 20% Wagenknecht (Left Party), 15% Lindner (FDP), and just 10% for Petry (AfD). A YouGov survey published in late December 2017 found that just 36 percent of all respondents wanted Merkel to stay at the helm until 2021, while half of those surveyed voters called for a change at the top before the end of the legislature. By 2019 this had again changed, with now 67% of Germans wanting Merkel to stay till the end of her term in 2021 and only 29% wanting her to step down earlier.
Angela Merkel is a Lutheran member of the Evangelical Church in Berlin, Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia (German: Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz – EKBO), a United Protestant (i.e. both Reformed and Lutheran) church body under the umbrella of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The EKBO is a church of the Union of Evangelical Churches. Before the 2004 merger of the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg and the Evangelical Church in Silesian Upper Lusatia (both also being a part of the EKD), she belonged to the former. In 2012, Merkel said, regarding her faith: "I am a member of the evangelical church. I believe in God and religion is also my constant companion, and has been for the whole of my life. We as Christians should above all not be afraid of standing up for our beliefs." She also publicly declared that Germany suffers not from "too much Islam" but "too little Christianity".
Merkel was portrayed by Swiss actress Anna Katarina in the 2012 political satire film The Dictator.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2013, she said that Europe had only 7% of the global population and produced only 25% of the global GDP, but that it accounted for almost 50% of global social expenditure. She went on to say that Europe could only maintain its prosperity by being innovative and measuring itself against the best. Since then, this comparison has become a central element in major speeches. The international financial press has widely commented on her thesis, with The Economist saying that:
In 2013, Merkel won one of the most decisive victories in German history, achieving the best result for the CDU/CSU since reunification and coming within five seats of the first absolute majority in the Bundestag since 1957. However, with their preferred coalition partner, the FDP, failing to enter parliament for the first time since 1949, the CDU/CSU turned to the SPD to form the third grand coalition in postwar German history and the second under Merkel's leadership. The third Cabinet of Angela Merkel was sworn in on 17 December 2013.
The term alternativlos (German for "without an alternative"), which was frequently used by Angela Merkel to describe her measures addressing the European sovereign-debt crisis, was named the Un-word of the Year 2010 by a jury of linguistic scholars. The wording was criticised as undemocratic, as any discussion on Merkel's politics would thus be deemed unnecessary or undesirable. The expression is credited for the name of the political party Alternative for Germany, which was founded in 2013.
In July 2013, Merkel defended the surveillance practices of the National Security Agency, and described the United States as "our truest ally throughout the decades". During a visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in Berlin, Merkel said on 19 June 2013 in the context of the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures: "The Internet is uncharted territory for us all" (German: Das Internet ist für uns alle Neuland). This statement led to various internet memes and online mockery of Merkel.
Merkel has been widely described as the de facto leader of the European Union throughout her tenure as Chancellor. Merkel has twice been named the world's second most powerful person following Vladimir Putin by Forbes magazine, the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman. On 26 March 2014, Merkel became the longest-serving incumbent head of government in the European Union. In December 2015, Merkel was named as Time magazine's Person of the Year, with the magazine's cover declaring her to be the "Chancellor of the Free World". In 2018, Merkel was named the most powerful woman in the world for a record fourteenth time by Forbes. Following the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency in November 2016, Merkel was described by The New York Times as "the Liberal West's Last Defender". Since 2016 she has been described by some commentators as the "leader of the free world". Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Merkel in 2017 as "the most important leader in the free world", She is currently the senior G7 leader. The Atlantic described her in 2019 as "the world's most successful living politician, on the basis of both achievement and longevity". She was found in a 2018 survey to be the most respected world leader internationally. She was named as Harvard University's commencement speaker in 2019; Harvard University President Larry Bacow described her as "one of the most widely admired and broadly influential statespeople of our time".
In July 2014 Merkel said trust between Germany and the United States could only be restored by talks between the two, and she would seek to have talks. She reiterated the U.S. remained Germany's most important ally.
Junior coalition partner, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that Germany could take in 500,000 refugees annually for the next several years. German opposition to the government's admission of the new wave of migrants was strong and coupled with a rise in anti-immigration protests. Merkel insisted that Germany had the economic strength to cope with the influx of migrants and reiterated that there is no legal maximum limit on the number of migrants Germany can take. In September 2015, enthusiastic crowds across the country welcomed arriving refugees and migrants.
In November 2015, there were talks inside the governing coalition to stop family unification for migrants for two years, and to establish "Transit Zones" on the border and – for migrants with low chances to get asylum approved – to be housed there until their application is approved. The issues are in conflict between the CSU who favoured those new measures and threatened to leave the coalition without them, and the SPD who opposes them; Merkel agreed to the measures. The November 2015 Paris attacks prompted a reevaluation of German officials' stance on the EU's policy toward migrants. There appeared to be a consensus among officials, with the exception of Merkel, that a higher level of scrutiny was needed in vetting migrants with respect to their mission in Germany. However, while not officially limiting the influx numerically, Merkel tightened asylum policy in Germany.
In 2015, with the absence of Stephen Harper, Merkel became the only leader to have attended every G20 meeting since the first in 2008, having been present at a record fourteen summits as of 2019. She hosted the twelfth meeting at the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit.
Her statement "Islam is part of Germany" during a state visit of the Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in January 2015 induced criticism within her party. The parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder said that Islam is not part of Germany and that Muslims should deliberate on the question why so many violent people refer to the Quran.
In October 2015, Horst Seehofer, Bavarian State Premier and CSU leader, criticised Merkel's policy of allowing in hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East: "We're now in a state of mind without rules, without system and without order because of a German decision." Seehofer attacked Merkel policies in sharp language, threatened to sue the government in the high court, and hinted that the CSU might topple Merkel. Many MPs of Merkel's CDU party also voiced dissatisfaction with Merkel. Chancellor Merkel insisted that Germany has the economic strength to cope with the influx of migrants and reiterated that there is no legal maximum limit on the number of migrants Germany can take.
In October 2016, Merkel travelled to Mali and Niger. The diplomatic visit took place to discuss how their governments could improve conditions which caused people to flee those countries and how illegal migration through and from these countries could be reduced.
Merkel enjoyed good relations with U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Obama described her in 2016 as his "closest international partner" throughout his tenure as president. Obama's farewell visit to Berlin in November 2016 was widely interpreted as the passing of the torch of global liberal leadership to Merkel as Merkel was seen by many as the new standard bearer of liberal democracy since the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.
In 2016, a documentary film Angela Merkel – The Unexpected, a story about her unexpected rise to power from an East German physicist to the most powerful woman in the world, was produced by Broadview TV and MDR in collaboration with Arte and Das Erste.
In the 2017 election, Merkel led her party to victory for the fourth time. Both CDU/CSU and SPD received a significantly lower proportion of the vote than they did in the 2013 election, and attempted to form a coalition with the FDP and Greens. The collapse of these talks led to stalemate. The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier subsequently appealed successfully to the SPD to change their hard stance and to agree a 3rd grand coalition with the CDU/CSU.
The migrant crisis spurred right-wing electoral preferences across Germany with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) gaining 12% of the vote in the 2017 German federal election. These developments prompted debates over the reasons for increased right-wing populism in Germany. Literature argued that the increased right-wing preferences are a result of the European migrant crisis which has brought thousands of people, predominantly from Muslim countries to Germany, and spurred a perception among a share of Germans that refugees constitute an ethnic and cultural threat to Germany.
Following the G7 Summit in Italy and the NATO Summit in Brussels, Merkel stated on May 28, 2017 that the US was no longer the reliable partner Europe and Germany had depended on in the past. At an electoral rally in Munich, she said that "We have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans", which has been interpreted as an unprecedented shift in the German-American transatlantic relationship.
In June 2017, Merkel criticized the draft of new U.S. sanctions against Russia that target EU–Russia energy projects, including Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Since 2017 Merkel has been seen and filmed to shake visibly on several public occasions, recovering shortly afterwards. After one such occasion she attributed the shaking to dehydration, saying that she felt better after a drink of water. After three occasions where this happened in June 2019, she began to sit down during the performances of the national anthems during the State visits of Mette Frederiksen and Maia Sandu the following month.
In March 2018, the CSU's Horst Seehofer took over the role of Interior Minister. A policy Seehofer announced is that he has a "master plan for faster asylum procedures, and more consistent deportations." Under Seehofer's plan, Germany would reject migrants who have already been deported or have an entry ban and would instruct police to turn away all migrants who have registered elsewhere in the EU, no matter if these countries agreed to take them back. Merkel feared that unilaterally sending migrants back to neighbouring countries without seeking a multilateral European agreement could endanger the stability of the European Union.
In June 2018, Seehofer backed down from a threat to bypass her in the disagreement over immigration policy until she would come back on July 1 from attempts to find a solution at the European level. On 1 July 2018, Seehofer rejected the agreement Merkel had obtained with EU countries as too little and declared his resignation during a meeting of his party's executive, but they refused to accept it. During the night of 2 July 2018, Seehofer and Merkel announced they had settled their differences and agreed to instead accept a compromise of tighter border control. As a result of the agreement, Seehofer agreed to not resign, and to negotiate bilateral agreements with the specific countries himself. Seehofer was criticised for almost bringing the government down while the monthly number of migrants targeted by that policy was in single figures.
In June 2018, Merkel said that there had been "no moral or political justification" for the post-war expulsion of ethnic Germans from Central and Eastern European countries.
The fourth cabinet of Angela Merkel is the current government of Germany, and was sworn in on 14 March 2018 after. The negotiations that led to a Grand Coalition agreement with the Social Democracts (SPD) were the longest in German post-war history, lasting almost six months.
On 29 October 2018, Merkel announced that she would not seek reelection as leader of CDU at their party conference in December 2018, but intended to remain as chancellor until the 2021 German federal election is to be held. She stated that she does not plan to seek any political office after this. The resignations followed October setbacks for the CSU in the Bavarian state election and for the CDU in the Hessian state election. In August 2019, Merkel hinted that she might return to academia at the end of her term in 2021.
She decided not to suggest any person as her successor as leader of the CDU. However, political observers had long considered Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as Merkel's protégé groomed for succession. This view was confirmed when Kramp-Karrenbauer – widely seen as the chancellor's favourite for the post – was voted to succeed Merkel as leader of the CDU in December 2018. Kramp-Karrenbauer's elevation to Defence Minister after Ursula von der Leyen's departure to become president of the European Commission also boosted her standing as Merkel's most likely candidate for succession. In 2019, media outlets speculated that Kramp-Karrenbauer may take over Merkel's position as Chancellor sooner than planned if the current governing coalition proved unsustainable. The possibility was neither confirmed nor denied by the party. In February 2020, Kramp-Karrenbauer announced that she would resign as party leader of the CDU in the summer, after party members in Thuringia defied her by voting with Alternative for Germany to support a FDP-candidate for minister-president.
In July 2019, the UN ambassadors from 22 nations, including Germany, signed a joint letter to the UNHRC condemning China's mistreatment of the Uyghurs as well as its mistreatment of other minority groups, urging the Chinese government to close the Xinjiang re-education camps.
On 6 April 2020, Merkel stated: "In my view... the European Union is facing the biggest test since its foundation and member states must show greater solidarity so that the bloc can emerge stronger from the economic crisis unleashed by the pandemic". Merkel has won international plaudits for her handling of the pandemic in Germany.
Currently, Angela Merkel is 68 years, 6 months and 17 days old. Angela Merkel will celebrate 69th birthday on a Monday 17th of July 2023.
Find out about Angela Merkel birthday activities in timeline view here.