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Merkel makes first public appearance since leaving office

February 13, 2022

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was greeted with applause as she made her first public appearance since leaving office. In Berlin, she took part in the convention that reelected President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Merkel walking outside the German parliament building
Since leaving office, Merkel has avoided the spotlight, turning down a job and political honors to work on her memoirs Image: Christophe Gateau/picture alliance/dpa

There were 1,437 delegates taking part in the federal convention, which on Sunday reelected German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, but it was former Chancellor Angela Merkel who was singled out for an initial round of applause on Sunday.

It was Merkel's first public appearance since handing over the reins of the Chancellery to her successor, Olaf Scholz, in December.

German parliament President Bärbel Bas thanked Germany's long-time leader for her years of service to the country. 

"Dear Mrs. Dr. Merkel, I welcome you in the name of all the members of this federal convention," Bas said ahead of a round of applause for Merkel.

Merkel seated during the federal convention as other delegates clap
Merkel got a warm round of applause from the other delegates at the federal conventionImage: Britta Pedersen/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/picture alliance

Merkel spoke with several current members of government, including Chancellor Scholz, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. She also spoke with Friedrich Merz, her long-time inner-party opponent and current head of the now-opposition Christian Democratic Union.

Two months after leaving office, it's the places Merkel hasn't appeared that have garnered some attention in Germany. She chose not to attend a Christian Democratic Union virtual party conference and also skipped the meeting of the local constituency that elected her. Merkel also turned down a job offer to work for the United Nations as the chair of an advisory body on global public goods.

Like delegates at the convention, the German press was also happy to see Merkel in public. A headline in Der Spiegel news magazine declared her the "star" of the convention.

Though the vote to elect the German president is secret, it was Merkel who helped Steinmeier, her foreign minister at the time, to his first term as Germany's head of state in 2017.

Merkel was German chancellor for 16 years and a part of the German parliament for 30. 

sms/jsi (dpa, AFP)

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