Angela Merkel’s rule in Germany might be over, but she definitely made her mark on world politics.
As Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, takes office on Wednesday, the world is remembering Merkel’s historic contribution.
During her 16-year chancellorship, Merkel stood out as an indispensable crisis manager, managing to hold an increasingly fractious European Union together, while raising Germany’s profile and influence to unprecedented levels.
A scientist who grew up in former East Germany, Merkel rose to prominence in 1991 after chancellor Helmut Kohl appointed her as minister for women and youth. By 2005, she successfully took over the reins at CDU and became the country’s first female chancellor.
Her tenure saw her having to handle major international crises, from the 2008 global recession to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The four terms in power meant that Merkel worked with four US presidents, five British prime ministers, four French presidents, and eight Italian premiers.
Named “The World’s Most Powerful Woman” by Forbes magazine for the past 10 years in a row, Merkel was also lauded for being a powerful role model for women, with politics still almost exclusively dominated by male figures.
But it’s not just her calmness under pressure and ability to defuse the tensest of situations, both at home and abroad, that made her a largely popular international figure.
Merkel’s “rhombus” hand gesture, or “Merkel-Raute,” became so popular it received its own Wikipedia entry, an emoji, and it was eventually immortalised at the Madame Tussauds museum.
Although the end of her tenure as chancellor also marks an end to Merkel’s 31-year-long career as a politician, many believe that this is not the last the world sees of her.