The political life of Angela Merkel in pictures: the end of an era

BERLIN – When Angela Merkel became Chancellor 16 years ago, George W. Bush was in the White House and Tony Blair was British Prime Minis...


BERLIN – When Angela Merkel became Chancellor 16 years ago, George W. Bush was in the White House and Tony Blair was British Prime Minister. There was neither Twitter nor iPhone. Liberal democracy was in seemingly irreversible expansion as the Orange Revolution swept through Ukraine.

Wednesday, like Olaf Scholz, Merkel’s successor, takes over as Chancellor, Twitter is a real tool of diplomacy, Russian troops are gathering on the border of a divided Ukraine and democracy itself seems much less secure in the world.

In the years that followed, Merkel resisted Russian President Vladimir V. Putin (even when he tried to bully her with his dog). She bonded with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and berated President Donald J. Trump. She has become an icon of hope for refugees and an object of contempt for populists around the world.

It was a long journey that began behind the Iron Curtain. Born in the western port city of Hamburg, Merkel grew up as the daughter of a Protestant pastor from the former Communist East in a small town north of Berlin.

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Merkel abandoned a career in scientific research to enter politics, winning a seat in Parliament in Germany’s first reunified elections. Before becoming Chancellor, she held several cabinet posts and was leader of her Conservative Party, having ousted her political mentor, Helmut Kohl, in a ruthless show of power by publicly calling for her impeachment. She remained at the head of the Christian Democratic Union until 2018, when she decided to resign, a decision that made her a lame duck for the last difficult years of her chancellery.

Today, at 67 years old, Mrs Merkel long political life seems to be coming to an end (what follows is uncertain). She was always clear that she wanted to step down on her own terms and at her own pace. “At some point I want to find the right time to quit politics,” she told Herlinde Koelbl, a German photographer, in 1998. “I don’t want to be a half-dead wreck.”

She kept that promise to herself. The first Chancellor of modern Germany to step down rather than being rejected by lawmakers or the public, Merkel is leaving the Chancellery as her country’s most popular politician.

His political career, which began in an era of hope after the fall of the Berlin Wall, ended in a period of great uncertainty. It’s a journey from the end of history and back.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The political life of Angela Merkel in pictures: the end of an era
The political life of Angela Merkel in pictures: the end of an era
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