Merkel’s de­ci­sive mo­ments

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

As Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela seeks the bless­ing from her party to run for a fourth con­sec­u­tive term in gen­eral elec­tions next year, here are seven piv­otal mo­ments in her ca­reer.

Spokes­woman to Chan­cel­lor

Merkel, the daugh­ter of a pas­tor, be­came po­lit­i­cally ac­tive when op­po­si­tion to the East Ger­man gov­ern­ment grew in 1989. She briefly served as a deputy spokes­woman for the first demo­crat­i­cally elected East Ger­man gov­ern­ment, be­fore win­ning elec­tion in 1990 to the re­uni­fied Ger­man par­lia­ment as a mem­ber of the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU) party. Chan­cel­lor Hel­mut Kohl named Merkel min­is­ter for women and youth in 1991, but dis­par­aged his youngest cabi­net mem­ber with the pa­tron­iz­ing nick­name, “das Maed­chen” (the girl). Merkel steadily climbed to the CDU lead­er­ship and Kohl’s in­sult came back to haunt him when “the girl” was the only one with the guts to tell him to quit when he got bogged down in a po­lit­i­cal slush fund scan­dal. She was elected party chief in 2000 with more than 95 per­cent of the vote. On Novem­ber 22, 2005, Merkel be­came Ger­many’s first woman chan­cel­lor and has since won re-elec­tion twice. In the last round of elec­tions in 2013, she led the CDU to its best ever score since re­uni­fi­ca­tion.

Nu­clear power? Nein danke

Merkel stunned the world when she an­nounced af­ter the Fukushima nu­clear melt­down in 2011 that Ger­man nu­clear re­ac­tors would be phased out by 2022. Ger­many con­tin­ues to use coal-fired plants un­til it can ramp up green en­ergy ini­tia­tives. The coun­try has in­vested heav­ily in so­lar and wind power, and aims to pro­vide 80 per­cent of its needs with re­new­able sources by 2050.

All eyes turned to Merkel when Greece plunged into a sov­er­eign debt cri­sis in 2010. She was vil­i­fied as a heart­less penny-pincher as to­gether with Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, she took a hard line against for­giv­ing Athens’ mas­sive debt. She backed three in­ter­na­tional res­cue pack­ages worth more than 300 bil­lion eu­ros ($320 bil­lion) but only in ex­change for deep bud­get cuts and steep tax in­creases. As the euro-zone strug­gled to kick­start growth, Merkel came un­der in­tense pres­sure to boost gov­ern­ment spend­ing. — AFP

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