- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Teutonic Titan
- Official Title: Chancellor
- Government: Well-established democracy
- Years Left in Office: To 2017; re-election possible
- Political Classification: Center-right
- Education: MS, PhD Quantum Physics
- Age: 64 (born July 17, 1954)
Angela Merkel Facts and Information
- Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany, and the first woman to ever hold the position
- Merkel is center-right, fiscally and socially conservative, although has liberal leanings on environmental and energy policy
- Merkel's Germany is economically and financially sound: the biggest and strongest economy in Europe, 4th largest in the world
- Merkel is really stuck and losing support due to her policies on bailing out Greece and the Eurozone from economic collapse but she draws the line on expecting Greece to pay back
- Merkel is great at putting countries back in their rightful places as she has worked on negotiations between Russia and Ukraine
- Merkel is routinely voted as one of the most powerful women in the world
She’s the Teutonic titan of Europe! Leading Europe’s largest economy and top tier world political power player, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is a significant force well beyond the borders of Bavaria! Her decisions affect the future of the Euro, of the EU, the world economy, and even of nuclear energy use….and she is routinely ranked one of the most powerful women in the world! She’s downright Merkel-licious!
However, this first female chancellor of Germany had perhaps the least likely background preparation for her position. Raised in a small town in the quaint countryside north of Berlin (in communist-era East Germany) by a Lutheran pastor and English-teacher mother, Merkel went on to earn a BS in physics and her PhD in quantum chemistry and then worked as a researcher…this lady is a full-fledged scientist! But Germany, and the USSR, were a-changin’ and communism was a-collapsin’ so a new path was opened to Angie’s energies…
As the USSR started to implode in 1989, Merkel got involved in the growing democracy movement after the fall of the Berlin Wall, joining the new party Democratic Awakening. Following the first (and only) democratic election in the East German state, she became the deputy spokesperson of the new pre-unification caretaker government…from scientist to democracy spokesperson: how’s that for a rapid introduction into politics?
After East and West Germany unified into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, in the very first post-unification election, Merkel was elected to the Bundestag (that’s the German equivalent to the US Congress) as a member of a party that later merged with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). The CDU is a center-right, Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany, of which Merkel is not just a member, she has been leader of the party since 2000…thus, if in America, she would be a Republican.
But just barely. Her fiscal and social policy is largely conservative, but she does have a ‘green’ streak in her: she is a big advocate of green energies and also of halting global warming. In fact, Merkel is the only leader of a large industrial nation that has proposed serious global policy on halting greenhouse gas emissions…not that any of them have been embraced yet, but Merkel does try….
But I am getting ahead of the story…back to Angie’s ascent in the 1990’s: Merkel then became Minister for Women and Youth in Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s 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. Angie was on the move, upward. After Kohl lost power, she was leader of the conservative opposition in the lower house of the German parliament, and eventually became the leader of a coalition between the CDU and the CSU (the Bavarian Christian Social Union: a sister party to the CDU)...a position that then put her in the top slot leadership of the German government itself, thus launching her into the Chancellorship in 2005!
When Merkel came to power she said her government would be judged by how many jobs it created and by how much it had cut the deficit, and in her first 4 years she did a bang-up job! The German economy has been strong, has the lowest unemployment in Europe, and remains a powerhouse of the continent! Her pro-market, anti-labor policies have not garnered her any favor with the liberal left, but such is politics. However, she also spent a lot of her time dealing with cultural/immigration issues and bailing out the crippled Eurozone…much to the chagrin of an increasing number of German voters. And her stance on these issues?
Well, let’s put it this way: Merkel has outright stated that she believes multiculturalism is a failed experiment for German, has pushed for decreased movement of peoples within the EU zone, and openly opposed Turkey’s entry into the EU—just so you know, the major immigrant group in Germany are Turks, so there is some personal friction going on there, as many Germans feel that a lot of the Turks have simply refused any attempts at assimilation. This feeling by locals that they are ‘losing their culture’ to foreigners is a common theme that is gaining support both within Germany and the EU as a whole.
Fiscally, Merkel has kept the German haus in order, but unfortunately Europe as a whole has not fared so well, and our favored Frau is catching sheisse for that too! Say what? Merkel has recently drawn fire for her response to the Greek economic crisis/collapse…which is now turning into a possible collapse of the Eurozone and the Euro itself! How can Merkel be getting negative press for a bunch of Greek shenanigans?
Well, her first controversial decision came in her attempt to bail-out the Greek economy in a similar manner to the U.S. government’s bail-out of its financial and auto industries…with German taxpayer money of course. This was an extremely unpopular decision in Germany and that caused some political backlash from the public. More recently, she as taken a much harder-line stance on any aid given to Greece, even demanding the IMF become a player in the game backing some of these loans. Despite that, as Merkel’s Germany remains THE most critical contributor to debt relief in the Eurozone, members of Angela’s own political party are starting to defect from supporting her on the basis that Germany has already given too much and should pull back from being Europe’s monetary life raft….
But Angie is stuck is really stuck on this one! She (and the solid German economy and fiscally responsible German taxpayers) simply have to contribute the most to salvaging the whole EU and Eurozone experiment: if they allow Greece to crash and burn, many other European countries will likely follow, and then the whole shebang is going down the toilet, which will of course negatively affect all of Europe, even Germany. But the Germans are getting rightly sick of having to pick up the bill for the southern Europeans states’ complete fiscal idiocy. Can’t say I blame them. So Merkel is doing the right thing for Europe (and for Germany in the long run) but may have to pay the short term political price by losing all sorts of public and political party support.
But she is a strong leader with a stoically solid backbone, so never fear. In this respect, comparisons have been made to the fiscally conservative Margaret Thatcher (famous former Prime Minister of UK back in the 80’s): both women are conservative bulwarks of their societies, and have shown the ability to be cool-headed yet hard-core firm in their policy decisions in attempts to guide their countries through difficult economic times. It is from these decisions that they both earned the moniker ‘The Iron Lady’...although in Angie’s case, it has been modified to “Iron Frau”!
Other things to know about Merkel: she is the only major world power leader that is moving towards green energies in a dedicated way, as referenced earlier. She started her administration pretty pro-US, but that Uncle Sam love have been flagging as of late, with German support of the Afghan campaign at an all time low…and Germany actually refused to support the Euro/US/NATO invasion of Libya. Relations and trade with both Russia and China are at all time highs, and Merkel’s Germany has increasing clout as a respected world power that plays well with others…all others, not just its Team West buddies.
Germany is pretty much always invited to the UN Permanent Security Council meeting, is a major player in the G-7 and G-20, and an industrial giant…and so you should always know the leader at the helm of this country And for a while longer, its the Merkel! I go berserk-el for the Merkel!
2011 UPDATE: Wowsers!!! Huge big nuke deal just went down in Germany, and I ain’t talkin’ meltdown here! In the wake of the Japanese tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster, Merkel announced that her state has totally renounced nuclear energy use, and will have all reactors off-line by 2022…which is a stunning 180 degree turn from her administration’s position just 9 months prior!
This move by the 4th largest economy and a world superpower in its own right is sending shockwaves thru the nuclear industry and the world. This could very well be a “JFK:we-will-put-a-man-on-the-moon” moment in history that shapes the future of the planet as Germany may spur a true movement towards alternative energies that other countries embrace. The downside? Well, Germany is a major industrial power with major fuel needs, and no one in their right mind thinks that the road to ‘green’ will be easy, or even possible. They will be even more heavily reliant on fossil fuels in the decades to come…hey man, they got to keep those BMW’s hauling ass on the Autobahn!
In addition, the Greek/Eurozone bail-outs combined with an increasing deficit due to tax cuts and unpopular anti-labor (anti-union) policies have led to Merkel slowly losing her grip on the Chancellorship. The most recent set back she has suffered has been a defeat of her party at the polls, with the Christian Democratic Union having lost its party majority in the legislature. Things don’t look rosy for Angie, but don’t count the Iron Frau out just as yet!
Ich bin eine Berliner! Although that means nothing in this context, I always like saying it.
Well, well, well… the titan keeps on reigning! Three terms going on four it seems! Some wonder if Merkel is wanting a vacation from this weighty power and an early end to the current term, but it sure looks like she wants to keep us on our toes instead! Seriously, what Prime Minister would want to step down from a country leading both economically and with another World Cup title? There’s no reason to leave the party!
Anyway, don’t let this jolly atmosphere make you miss the nitty-gritty stuff the lady is sifting through. Since your last insight into her life, Merkel has gotten a third term. Oh, I’m repeating myself…but it’s important to know because Merkel has this new term particularly because of her valiant efforts to keep the economy on a smooth course while hell breaks loose in the rest of Europe. Oh, yeah, and hell has broken loose in Europe in more ways than one. Merkel has been oppressed with the peacemaking role. Boy, I hope she likes it because it seems to be a key part of her job…
First of all, there still are problems across the EU economically and financially. Well, now it seems to be mostly a Greece problem. Yeah, it’s not as simple as scrubbing your average pan. This Greece is really greasy when it comes to making messes that they can’t clean up. With a new president, Greece is looking to skip out of half its debt, but here the titan draws the line and stops playing the nice guy (or woman in this case – must give credit where credit is due). Sure, she wants to help but enough is enough, and Greece is putting itself into a corner just as this is written.
Besides still bailing out a handful of countries in the EU and observing if they follow the conditions set to bounce back the countries, Merkel has needed to play babysitter to Ukraine. Why? Well, to put a complicated story into a sentence, let’s just say that Ukraine is kind of split into pro-Western Europe and pro-Russia. Like a little child, it doesn’t know what it wants. Unfortunately, Ukraine is not innocent in the least and has had mayhem, revolts, and just blood pouring because of bad leadership and confusion. However, thanks to our trusty little lady (aka Merkel) and her ability to travel to five plus places in less than a week, things seem to be heading in a reasonable direction. In February 2015, Merkel and her sidekick President Francois Hollande got Russia (well, basically Putin) and Ukraine to call a ceasefire. Thank goodness it seems to be being upheld for the most part! While this may not be the end of the violence, at least Merkel has been taught correctly to put bad kids in time out to cool their heads. I’m serious, this woman sometimes has the patience of a saint…
When Merkel has not played babysitter, she has been strengthening a great strategic partnership with India the past few years (they’re still partying on together to this very day). They’re currently set to have future meetings in the upcoming year to keep everything handy dandy. Oh that woman knows how to play her cards both strong and sweet for her audience!
Merkel also isn’t the picky type and goes right for the best competition – which is probably why she has the best working relations with Russia of all the players in the world at this point. That cunning Putin just can’t get around this lady no matter how much he tries. Currently, he wants to try and persuade Ukraine to come back to Russia, and this isn’t too hard since it’s basically half pro-Russian anyway. He has been showing all signs of bloodlust as he marches his troops up and down the border. At this point, he is just waiting for the perfect time to flip the war switch on and swarm Ukraine. However, Merkel is hitting Putin upside the head for being too hotheaded, and this seems to be working. Is this too extreme? Apparently, it’s the only way to get through to this self-centered man for now. The poor lady is reaching the end of her rope on this one though. If Putin loses his last dose of humanity, Merkel might lose her control strength – her last special ability against the man. I don’t blame Merkel for going this far – the lady wants to look out on Ukraine and the rest of her neighbors without seeing destruction all around. It would totally ruin her garden view if the background was just full of mayhem! How do you keep a garden looking pretty? It’s just by plucking the weeds one by one – just like Merkel’s plucking Putin’s schemes right from under his feet.
Without a doubt, this woman isn’t calling it quits anytime soon – she’s the “girl on fire” after all! Let’s keep up the good work, Merkel, and pass me the sauerkraut would you?
2017 Update: So, some are questioning whether that fourth term will actually happen for our powerhouse leader of the Germans in the fall. I know…it’s a bit of a shocker, but a whole lot can happen in a short period of time and it has been no different for our German friends! Last time we checked in with our German Chancellor, she was coming off a World Cup victory and having a party of her own! As we all know, our German friends sure know how to celebrate (hello, Oktoberfest!!!) and the party got even more thrilling when Merkel was named 2015 Times Magazine Person of the Year!
Why would Merkel be awarded such a title? She helped save the euro from its failure because of Greece by “merkeling!” Seriously, the Germans made up that word to describe the patience-inducing process she used! Additionally, the people loved her and thought her open door policy to assist with the Syrian refugee crisis was a gift to mankind! She became the mother figurehead, the beloved, the humanitarian savior…until the world realized that welcoming millions of newbies did not just bring rainbows and butterflies, but had some gritty consequences. For those in Germany, they started realizing that their budget and resources were having a hard time keeping up with its rapidly increasing population. Then, there is the issue of some terrorists sneaking in with the refugees, leading to the increase in terrorist attacks and threats that have definitely put the country and all of Europe on edge. Right…not so good.
Some of these recent attacks include the 2015 Paris attacks where the three terrorists had been refugees who sought asylum in Germany. In addition, on New Year’s Eve of 2016, the Cologne attacks took place in which around 1,000 women were sexually assaulted. Around this time, Merkel started considering tougher migrant laws to make it easier to deport those refugees who are the bad apples in the bunch. These attacks were followed by two more attacks in July of 2016; one was on July 18th when a refugee attacked passengers on a train near Wuerzberg with a knife and hatchet, while the other attack was in Ansbach, Bavaria on July 24th when a Syrian refugee from ISIS ignited a bomb. These attacks heavily contributed to bringing Merkel’s trusty approval rating to a five-year-low of 45% in September. Poor Merkel who was genuinely trying to be open and helpful to those in need was seeing her policy backfire. She continued to fight to make the best out of the situation (Germans are pretty good role models when it comes to not giving up easily…). However, in September 2016, Merkel’s party lost in the Berlin election which many blame on her. Let me rephrase…her party lost in Germany’s capital and our good Chancellor friend even took responsibility for that loss! Ouch! This loss was followed by the Christmas market terrorist attack in Berlin in December 2016 when a terrorist used his truck as a lethal weapon. If there wasn’t pressure to fix the refugee situation before, there sure was a boatload now…
Nevertheless, our leader is a very intelligent woman! She invented “merkeling” for goodness sake! With Germany’s population reaching an all-time high because of the incoming refugees and the increasing safety concerns, Merkel started to shift her position. Now don’t get any crazy ideas that she was thinking about capping off the number of refugees per year! Oh no, Merkel refuses to do such a thing…she has too big of a heart and vision for peace to not welcome refugees in need! Believe me, the CSU party chairman in Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, has already insisted on a 200,000 cap on refugees. But, don’t read too much into it…Seehofer and Merkel don’t agree on much of anything! However, Merkel did come up with the ingenious idea to pay refugees to leave. What?!?! That’s right, she is paying refugees who do not believe it to be too dangerous to return to their homelands if they decide to leave before their asylum-seeking court date! See? Our wonder woman is using the all-time favorite success rate method to get people to do what you want…show them the dollars…or euros in this case! And better yet, she has got some extra cash from all those tax evaders who were finally caught! Yeah, the Swiss banks were not too thrilled about that, but this isn’t about them and their cheesy loopholes….
Additionally, Merkel has been keeping very busy earning frequent flier miles as she has been traveling throughout Europe to talk with different countries about setting up a policy for the refugees. One country which we can highlight is Turkey. Merkel has led the EU in making the agreement to pay Turkey to keep a number of refugees in their country! There we go again with the power of money! However, we will see how long Turkey will last in Merkel’s good graces now that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been calling German authorities who have been cancelling his ego rallies Nazis. Definitely not a smart move on his part as he hit a sore spot there!
So, that pretty much sums up where we are today…waiting to see what will happen as a result of her ideas. Some, including U.S. President Donald Trump (a.k.a. not Merkel’s #1 fan), believe that her open-door policy was a huge mistake. We will have to wait and see how this next year turns out for our good friend, Angela. Will her new policy work out the way she hopes? Will she be reelected for a fourth term? These all-important questions will be answered in time, but until then, let’s focus on beer, bratwurst, and Fußball (the cooler name for soccer).
Plaidcasts Involving this Leader
- Hansantic League Sep 16, 2013
- Germany Today: A 4th Reich Rising? Sep 12, 2013
- Is the EU becoming E-Useless? The EU-3 on Diverging Paths…. Feb 4, 2013
- French Socialist Sweep to Challenge European Status Quo Jun 21, 2012
- The Bear Further Embraces the Dragon Jun 5, 2012
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