Merkel, Angela(än`gĕlä mär`kəl), 1954–, German politician, b. Hamburg as Angela Dorothea Kasner. The daughter of a Lutheran pastor, she grew up in what was then East Germany. She trained as a physicist (Ph.D., Univ. of Leipzig, 1978) and worked (1978–90) as a quantum chemistry researcher at East Berlin's Academy of Sciences. Involved in the 1989 democracy movement, she joined the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and was elected to parliament in 1990. A protégé of Chancellor Helmut KohlKohl, Helmut
(Helmut Josef Michael Kohl) , 1930–2017, German statesman, chancellor of West Germany (1982–1990) and reunified Germany (1990–98). A member of Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he was elected to the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament in 1959, became
..... Click the link for more information. , she served under him as minister for youth and women (1991–94) and the environment (1994–98). After Kohl's defeat in 1998, Merkel became CDU secretary-general and, having distanced herself from her former mentor, she was elected party leader in 2000.
In the 2005 elections she led the CDU-CSU coalition to a narrow victory over the Social Democrats. No party, however, secured a workable plurality of seats, forcing the CDU-CSU into coalition with the Social Democrats. Merkel became chancellor, the first woman and the first E German after unification to do so. She remained chancellor after the 2009 elections when the CDU-CSU formed a center-right coalition with the Free Democrats. Her government's response to the effects of the post-2008 downturn in Germany and associated economic crisis in the eurozone in 2009–10 led to a loss of popularity at home and somewhat strained relations at times with European nations, but economic growth and low unemployment in Germany subsequently benefited the CDU-CSU.
In 2013 the CDU-CSU won again, but fell short of a majority and again entered into a coalition with the Social Democrats; Merkel remained chancellor. Coalition losses in 2017, resulting in part from a nationalist reaction against Merkel generally welcoming policies toward refugees in 2015, led to difficult negotiations for a new government. Ultimately Merkel re-formed the coalition with the Social Democrats in 2018 and secured a fourth term as chancellor. Subsequent losses by conservatives and Social Democrats in state elections, however, led Merkel to step down (2018) as CDU leader.