Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 5

Angela (Dorothea) Merkel - Background, Leader of the Opposition, Candidacy for Chancellor, Chancellor, Relationship with US President Bush

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German stateswoman and chancellor (2005– ), born in Hamburg, N Germany. The daughter of a Lutheran pastor and teacher, she grew up in a rural area north of Berlin in the then German Democratic Republic. She studied physics at the University of Leipzig, earning a doctorate in 1978, and later worked as a chemist at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry, Academy of Sciences (1978–1990). In 1990 she joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party and soon after was appointed to Helmut Kohl's cabinet as minister for women and youth. Following his defeat in the 1998 general election, she was named Secretary-General of the CDU. She was chosen party leader in 2000 and ran unsuccessfully for chancellor in 2002. In the 2005 election she narrowly defeated Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, winning by just three seats, and after the CDU agreed a coalition deal with the Social Democrats (SPD), she was declared Germany' first female chancellor.

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