Politically, Angela Merkel has moved her party, the Christian Democrat Union (CDU), closer to the centre and has maintained a pragmatic yet firm line on Germany’s economic and social programmes.

Considered now to be the leader of Europe, her focus and determination saved the Eurozone from collapse after bailouts were organised three times for Greece and to Cyprus, Portugal and Ireland.

She came under intense criticism for deciding to open Germany’s border to a million refugees from Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2015, but she remains adamant that she would do it again if she had to.

Merkel’s leadership and firmness stabilised central Europe in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the subsequent tensions and fighting in Ukraine.

On the global stage, she is seen as a prudent voice, a firm supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the United Nations, the European Union, and counters anti-European rhetoric emanating from Washington. She also helped broker the international treaty to end Iran’s economic isolation over its nuclear programme.

She will play a critical role in deciding what, if any, transition or Brexit deal the United Kingdom will achieve once it leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019.

– Mick O’Reilly, Foreign Correspondent


is the annual salary paid to the holder of Bundeskanzlerin — literally, the Federal Chancellor.

The role of Chancellor

The German Constitution was introduced in 1949 at a time when the nation was divided between free West Germany with the political capital based in Bonn, and East Germany, resting firmly in the Soviet bloc. Its political capital was in the divided city of East Berlin.

The role of the Chancellor is equivalent to that of Prime Minister, the leader of the federal government. There are also 16 German states, and each has its own state legislature.

Germany also has a president, but the role is largely ceremonial.