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Chancellor Merkel's long road to the top

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Chancellor Merkel's long road to the top


What will be the role of her husband?

That is just one of the questions commentators are asking now that Angela Merkel’s career as German Chancellor has begun. Joachim Sauer may have accompanied his high-profile wife on rare occasions like her meeting with the new German Pope this summer but the chemistry professor is notoriously media-shy and may prefer to remain in the background. Some say the pastor’s daughter he married has a clinical, almost shy approach. However, underneath the low-key image, Angela Merkel is made of strong stuff. How else would a one-time aide to the prime minister of a rapidly-collapsing East Germany make it as the first female leader of the reunified country? Moreover, this Protestant woman’s rise to power has taken place within a traditionally Catholic male party. As an Easterner she has also bucked the trend by rising to the top of the conservative CDU. Talent-spotted by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Merkel was brought into his government. But when he found himself at the centre of a campaign finance scandal, his protege wielded the political knife and put an and to her mentor’s career. Five years ago, Merkel took the helm of the Christian Democrats. An image change would follow for the woman whom supporters affectionately call “Angie”. When September’s election result did not quite have the fairytale end she had hoped for, Merkel was obliged to engage in hard bargaining with her political rivals, the SPD. But at the end of it all, she has emerged with exactly the job she wanted. The new chancellor may see it as a reward for the persistence and sharp intelligence she now hopes will benefit her country.
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