Angela Merkel: 10 Remarkable Achievements
Angela Merkel is a German politician who dominated the political landscape of Germany and Europe as the Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021. A pragmatic, visionary and articulate leader, Merkel also steered the affairs of her party, the Christian Democrat Union (CDU), for almost two decades.
Owing to her contributions to her nation and the globe at large, Angela Merkel – a former quantum chemist – was often regarded as one of the most powerful persons and respected leaders in the world. Commonly called the “Chancellor of the Free World”, Merkel comes in at number three on the list of longest-serving chancellor in the history of Germany.
In late 2021, Merkel was succeeded by Olaf Scholz, a former Vice Chancellor of Germany under Merkel and First Mayor of Hamburg (2011-2018).
Below World History Edu takes a look at 10 incredible achievements of Angela Merkel.
Quick Facts about Angela Merkel
Born – Angela Dorothea Merkel
Birth Day and Place – July 17, 1954, Hamburg, West Germany
Mother – Herlind Kasner
Father – Horst Kasner
Sibling – Irene Kasner, Marcus Kasner
Education: Leipzig University (1973 to 1978); German Academy of Sciences, Berlin.
Spouse – Joachim Sauer (1977 – 1982), Ulrich Merkel (married in 1998)
Political Party – Christian Democratic Union (CDU) (1990-), Democratic Awakening (1989 – 1990)
Public Offices: Chancellor of Germany (2005 – 2021), Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (2000 – 2018), General Secretary of the Christian Democratic Union (1998 – 2000), Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (1994-1998), Minister for Women and Youth (1991 – 1994), Member of Bundestag (1990-)
Ideology: Liberalism and individualism, Free Trade
Awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom (2013), Indira Gandhi Prize (2013), Charlemagne Prize (2008), Grand Cross 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2008)
Major Achievements of Angela Merkel
The following contains the ten major achievements of German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
She was a dedicated Research Scientist in Quantum Chemistry
Growing up in East Germany, Merkel favored mathematics and Russian. She graduated from University of Leipzig (formerly Karl Marx University) with flying colors (Abitur grade 1.0). In 1986, she completed her doctorate thesis on quantum chemistry and proceeded to take up a research position at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof.
Her dedication to research earned her quite a lot of praises. She is credited with the publication of number of critically acclaimed papers. However, Merkel quickly became disillusioned with the significantly slow-paced scientific environment in East Germany. Realizing how far back she was compared to her counterparts in West Germany, Merkel made a decision to swap her lab for the political arena.
Spokesperson for the Pre-unification caretaker government
The year 1989 was a significant year for East Germans as it ushered a series of changes in the country – the Revolutions of 1989 which culminated in the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
With the two Germanys poised to re-unite, Merkel seized the opportunity and joined a newly-established party known as the Democratic Awakening (Demokratischer Aufbruch) in February 1990. She went on to serve as the deputy spokesperson for the pre-unification caretaker government of East Berlin, impressing the head of the government, Lothar de Maizière.
Her party the Democratic Awakening eventually merged with the East German Christian Democratic Union. That party later merge with their sister party in West German – the Christian Democratic Union. Amidst all that Merkel continued to bid her time, learning the ins and outs of new political landscape.
She has been a member of the Bundestag since 1990
In December, 1990, Germany witnessed the first federal election post reunification. Buoyed on by the brilliant work she did earlier in the Democratic Awakening, Merkel contested and won a seat in the Bundestag (Germany’s lower house). She was elected to represent Stralsund-Nordvorpommern-Rügen (in north Mecklenburg-Vorpommern). And since then, Merkel has not lost a single re-election bid, making her one of the longest-serving members of the Bundestag.
In addition to being a member of the lower house, Merkel was the deputy chairman of the CDU. She replaced Maizière in December 1991.
Minister for Women and Youth
Post-reunification election allowed for the creation of the Conservative Alliance For Germany, which was made up of a coalition of German Social Union (DSU) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). A rising star in this coalition, Merkel was appointed into a junior cabinet position – Minister for Women and Youth. Her appointment came in January 1990. In that position, she quickly formed a very good working relationship with Chancellor Helmut Kohl, even acting as his protégé. To many people, she was nicknamed “Kohls Mädchen” (“Kohl’s girl”).
Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety
Her big break in politics came in 1994 when she was appointed Minister of the Environment and Nuclear Safety. The increased role made her become more visible in German politics. She was tagged by many, including her mentor Chancellor Kohl, as young and energetic politician with very bright future.
Secretary-General of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany
Even though her party (CDU) suffered a poor showing in the 1998 elections, Merkel’s meteoric rise in German politics continued throughout the decade.
Chancellor Kohl’s defeat at the hands of Gerhard Schröder and the Social Democratic Party of Germany meant that Merkel became the obvious candidate to lead her party during those opposition years. Kohl stepped down.
In 1998, Merkel was appointed to the second most important position in the party – the Secretary-General of the CDU. Thus she became the first woman to hold the secretary-general of CDU in the party’s history.
As Secretary-General, Merkel’s hard work paid off as she helped the CDU wrestle control back from the SPD in six state elections in 1999.
First female leader of the CDU
In a very strange turn of events, Merkel was catapulted to the leadership of the CDU following the CDU funding scandal of 1999. Many top leaders of the party were forced to step down so that the party could make rebrand itself. The likes of Wolfgang Schäuble and former Chancellor Kohl were jettisoned out of the helms of the party. In April, 2000, Merkel was elected leader of the CDU, replacing Schäuble.
She not only became the first woman to occupy that position, but she was also the first non-Catholic (considering her Protestant background). At the time, her election flew against CDU traditions, considering the fact that CDU is predominantly conservative and a male-dominated, catholic-aligned party.
Leader of the Opposition in parliament
Between 2002 and 2005, Angela Merkel was a potent opposition in the German Bundestag. She united her party and prepared them to take back the chancellorship of German in the coming election.
She also pushed for many political and economic reforms. Her most notable reform came in labor laws, which saw the number of weekly work hours go up. Many of the reforms she championed was to make Germany an efficient and very competitive country in the global market.
She also supported stronger transatlantic corporation with Germany’s North American partners.
First Female Chancellor of Germany
Throughout the years in opposition, very few people gave her a chance of one day becoming Chancellor of Germany, which had never been occupied by a woman. However, Merkel proved everyone wrong.
With the 2005 elections drawing close, Merkel’s CDU formed closer ties with their sister party the CSU. The alliance elected Merkel to spearhead their challenge against incumbent Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the SPD. Her party’s themes of unemployment reduction and a competitive Germany attracted a lot of voters to her side.
At the polls, Merkel’s alliance of CDU and CSU secured 35.2% as against SPD’s 34.2%. After a tense political exchanges (as neither parties conceded defeat), Merkel went on to win. She negotiated with the SPD and formed a grand coalition (of CDU, CSU, and SPD) that saw her elected as the Chancellor of Germany. The cabinet positions were split 50-50 between SPD and CDU/CSU.
At the time (November 22, 2005) of becoming Chancellor of Germany, Merkel made history by being the first female to hold the job. At the age of 51, she was also the youngest person to become Chancellor of the country. Prior to Merkel no East German had held the job before.
Third longest-serving Chancellor of Germany
Angela Merkel’s four consecutive terms in office as Chancellor means that she currently sits as the third longest-serving Chancellor in the history of Germany. She comes in behind Prince Otto von Bismarck and Helmut Kohl.
Her performance at the 2009 federal election was very convincing, as she was able to lead her party to victory. She formed a CDU-Free Democratic Party (FDP) coalition and was re-elected for the second time to serve as Chancellor.
In the 2013 election, Merkel again secured majority. Buoyed on by falling unemployment, the CDU/CSU performed very well at the polls. Merkel was easily re-elected for the third time as Chancellor of Germany.
Although the 2017 election did not go as expected, Merkel was still able to form a grand coalition with the SPD. The coalition elected Merkel to lead Germany again – a staggering fourth time in a row.
Handled the Euro-zone debt crisis and prevented Europe from disintegrating
Generally regarded by many as the de facto leader of the European Union (EU), Merkel consistently showed strong and decisive leadership when it comes to keeping Europe ticking. This was evident during the Euro-zone debt crisis. Beginning around the latter part of 2009, EU countries such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Cyprus struggled to refinance their debts. Such defaults could have jeopardized the stability of the Euro (EU’s common currency) and ultimately ruin Europe’s economy in general. Merkel pushed for greater austerity and increased oversight to halt the crisis. She
Showed immense leadership during the Immigration Crisis of 2015
Angela Merkel’s chancellorship saw Germany take a very liberal approach when it came to immigration. The chancellor rose up to challenge and expertly managed the influx of over 1 million refugees fleeing war-torn Syria and other neighboring Middle East countries. And although she came under immense criticism from many alt-right and radical groups in Germany, Merkel stood her ground and processed hundreds of thousand asylum applications.
She consistently called for her fellow European Union countries to show more solidarity and unity amidst the immigration crisis. This feat of hers increased her reputation across the globe, making her stand out as the “Leader of the Free World”.
Responded effectively to the Covid-19 Pandemic
2020 was a year that saw the world brought to its knees by the highly contagious novel Corona virus. Where as many Western countries struggled to keep the death rates from skyrocketing, Merkel remained calm and kept the virus from wreaking havoc in Germany. Compared to other developed countries, Germany’s response to the pandemic received very positive appraisal.
Other noteworthy achievements of Angela Merkel and her foreign relations policies:
- Chancellor Merkel was heavily involved during the Treaty of Lisbon in 2007 and the Berlin Declaration of 2007.
- For her strong values and commitment to democracy and sound governance, Merkel was awarded our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2011. She received the honor from former US President Barack Obama.
- Amgela Merkel rolled out a host of economic and social reforms both at home and abroad.
- Successfully made Germany more competitive globally.
- Globally, Angela Merkel was seen as a calm voice of reasoning – an analytical leader when it comes to foreign relations.
- Merkel secured a number of historic deals with Asian countries such as China, India, and Myanmar to boost political and economic corporation.
- She has campaigned for green and renewable energy.
- Her term of office saw a much more improved relations with Russia.