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Dorothea, the Empress of Europe

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Tony Blair occupied 10 Downing Street, George W Bush was in the White House, John Howard had access to Kirribilli House. This era saw its downfall, but that of Merkel's remained. With the rise in popularism and her relationship with President Donald Trump, she was coined the 'Empress of Europe'.

Angela Dorothea Merkel was born on July 17th, 1954, in Hamburg, Germany. She is a German politician who is the first female chancellor of Germany. She has a doctorate in quantum chemistry and worked as a research assistant before entering politics. She served as the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Christian Democratic Union in her political career. Merkel was called the de facto leader of the European Union. In 2018, Merkel announced that she would not seek a fifth term as Chancellor in the 2021 federal election, a massive loss to the German nation.

Merkel began her political journey during the 1989 revolutions, before the fall of the Berlin wall. She joined the conservative Alliance for Germany, became the deputy spokesperson of the government of Lothar de Maizière, joined the CDU and that party united with its western counterpart one day before the rejoining of Germany. In the first post reunification election Merkel won a seat in the lower house of parliament. The following year, Chancellor Helmut Kohl made Merkel the minister for women and youth. This choice made by Kohl made Merkel earn the nickname “Kohls Mädchen” (“Kohl’s girl”). Maizière resigned from his position in 1991, due to allegations, and Merkel was elected to replace him. After the 1994 election Merkel became minister of conservation, reactor safety and environment, and she led the first United Nations Climate Conference in Berlin in 1995.

In 2005, Merkel became the chancellor, and became the youngest person, first woman and first East German, to earn that title. Professor Michael Wohlgemuth, who teaches economics at the University of Witten/Herdecke stated that economic tactics of Merkel were impressive before the pandemic and also said that “Overall, the 15 Merkel years were rather good years for the German economy, especially when compared to most of our neighbours”.

Angela Merkel leading cabinet meetings at the Chancellery in Berlin.

Mrs. Merkel has held Europe together when it counts. She’s often called 'liberal West's last defender' and the 'Empress of Europe'. When Ukraine was attacked by Russia, it was Merkel that was in charge of leading against them. Many say Merkel's leave from the EU will affect Europe. Puglierin, at the European Council on Foreign Relations said, “No one can replace Angela Merkel, at least for the foreseeable future, because Angela Merkel had built her reputation and her political weight over 16 years, and I think just in terms of experience and in terms of political weight, none of the leaders in Europe is able to basically follow in her footsteps”. In 2015, TIME magazine named her the person of the year and stated that she showed 'moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply'.

As the first female German chancellor, Merkel has served a record four terms in government. Merkel has her share of critics, but she has been an overall source of stability and a role model on how to face crises. As a leader for 16 years, Merkel has worked with several world leaders who have changed their posts while she reigned supreme; five UK prime ministers and four US presidents to name a few.

Merkel has modernized Germany, changed the conservative system, all while keeping Germany’s economic interests in mind. Before Merkel became chancellor, Germany found it difficult to have unity between the former east and west. Merkel made policy shifts on nuclear policy after the Fukushima disaster, helped to create a population moving towards a carbon-neutral economy by 2045 (EU target is 2050), ended military conscription, set Germany on course for a future without nuclear and fossil-fueled power, introduced a national minimum wage and benefits encouraging fathers to look after children. Merkel also kept her word in welcoming more than one million refugees into Germany while other nations lagged behind. Merkel made deals during meetings to keep Greece in the EU and maintain European solidarity. It is due to Merkel's leadership that EU citizens see Germany as a trustworthy, pro-European power. Merkel’s time also has its share of shortcomings as well. For instance, when saving the Euro currency during the Euro-crisis and Global Financial Crisis.

‘Goodbye Mum’: a sign farewells Merkel, who after 16 years as German leader leaves a huge legacy.

Furthermore, after 16 years in power, Merkel became a feminist. She was initially known as a reluctant feminist as she usually shied away from answering the question of whether she was a feminist. Merkel said, "I have thought my answer through more and so I can say yes: we should all be feminists," at an event with Nigerian author Chimamanda. Merkel is often called Mutti (mum) and millions of women and girls say Merkel has had a profound effect especially in a country where old gender roles are only changing slowly. "She has done a lot to pave the way for others, now it is completely normal to see female chancellor candidates. And this hasn't always been the case," said Maria Luisa Schill, a resident of the southwestern university town of Freiburg. In politics, many women are inspired by Merkel for breaking the male dominant glass ceiling. She is known to be an excellent role model for young girls and women.

On trips to Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Merkel often visited women's rights projects. She stressed that giving women in poor countries a good education and jobs is key to the respective nations' growth. "The goal needs to be equality, equality everywhere," she said. "I hope it becomes natural for women and men to split up work, raising the children and doing the household equally ... and I hope it's not going to take another 100 years to get there."

Angela Dorothea Merkel, from making Europe more resilient to being the world's most powerful woman for 13 out of the last 14 years and being a strong female presence that inspires millions of females around the globe, her legacy is really worth celebrating. She will go down in history books as a trailblazer and a leader who made other leaders see that compromise is possible for the good of all. So, tschüss Dorothea, the Empress of Europe.

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