On track for a fourth term as chancellor
Who would have thought? She was seen as a stopgap after Helmut Kohl. But for the last 16 years she has led the CDU and for the last 12, she's led Germany's government. And the Merkel era may well continue.
Taking her first oath
"I want to serve Germany." This was Merkel's promise during her campaign to become chancellor. After a very narrow election win, her moment came on November 22, 2005. Merkel was sworn in as the first female chancellor and the first from former East Germany. She became head of a grand coalition government combining her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the defeated Social Democrats (SPD).
Who's afraid of Putin's pooch?
On the foreign policy front, Merkel had to face a powerful adversary. She is known for her steady nerves. But Vladimir Putin apparently wanted to test the chancellor's limits when he received her in 2007. He soon found Merkel's weakness: the chancellor is afraid of dogs. Despite this, or maybe because of it, Putin's late labrador, Konni (or Connie Paulgrave), was put on a long leash.
Rainy day funds
Merkel usually keeps her cool - which has often helped her during crises. When financial markets collapsed in 2008 and the German economy was being pulled down with them, Merkel took action. Later, she was closely involved in constructing the eurozone's rescue funds. Broadly speaking, Germany emerged unscathed. But Merkel's austerity measures were felt by others, especially Greeks and Spaniards.
A second term, with the desired coalition
Despite achieving the second-worst post-war electoral result for the CDU/CSU, the parliamentary elections on 27th September 2009 were a victory for Merkel. After the unwelcome grand coalition with the Social Democrats, she was now able to govern with her preferred partner, the pro-business liberals from the Free Democratic Party (FDP).
Quick to pull the plug
As a physics graduate, Merkel reputedly plans by starting at the end. Yet she couldn't predict the nuclear disaster in high-tech Japan. The 2011 Fukushima accident transformed the atomic energy supporter into an opponent overnight. The recently-approved extensions to German nuclear reactors' running time were quickly canceled. Contrary to her manifesto, Germany would stop producing nuclear power.
Germany's low-key 'First Man'
Would anyone recognize him? Would they know his voice? During Merkel's 10 years in power, her husband, Joachim Sauer, has passed almost unnoticed. The professor for physical and theoretical chemistry at Berlin's Humboldt University married Merkel in 1998. When his wife is on official business, he discretely stays in the background. But in their private lives, the reverse sometimes seems to apply.
NSA: friendship put to the test
A racy affair. When close ally the US, of all countries, was found to be intercepting top German politicians' phone calls. Even Merkel's cell phone was not safe from the secret service. Merkel took her time in commenting on the revelations about the wiretapped phones - a domestic and foreign policy disaster for her. One comment stuck in the memory: "Listening in on friends - that's just not on!"
The Greek patient
Merkel has a large global fan base, but it is somewhat smaller in Greece. Nowhere has she been so demonized as in Greece during the peak of the eurozone's sovereign debt difficulties. Old animosities were rekindled, but the chancellor stayed firm: save, introduce economic reform, bring in cuts - these were her demands of the government in Athens.
Emotional, at least once
A controlled woman known for her minimal gestures and facial expressions, she could not keep to official protocol and its dictated restraints at the World Cup Final in Rio - happily cheering together with President Joachim Gauck. She was at the high point of her popularity and so was the German national football team. These two have been highly influential in shaping Germany's international image.
We can do this...can't we?
Had Merkel found her calling? As hundreds of thousands of refugees came to Germany via the Balkans, the chancellor said that asylum law knows no upper limits. "We can do this!" was Merkel's credo during the refugee crisis. She claimed to have a plan. But in the meantime, many Germans are questioning: "Can we do this?" It remains an open question.
What's next, Mrs. Merkel?
It was on a Friday the 13th - November's 2015 massacre in Paris. France declared a state of emergency. Angela Merkel offered her neighbors "full support." Fear of terrorism was rampant. Without question, she was confronted with her greatest challenge to date on the tenth anniversary of her tenure.
With friends like these...
At the CSU party convention in November 2015, the chancellor was dragged over the coals by her Bavarian allies. Horst Seehofer took Merkel to task - accusing her of losing control of the borders with her refugee policies. It was a humiliation that Merkel had to endure standing up, without any chance to respond.
Couldn't he stay a little longer?
Merkel might have welcomed a third Barack Obama term. At first, she was skeptical of him. The NSA scandal with her tapped cell phone was reason enough for her to hold something back. But now a reliable partner is leaving the political stage to make way for Donald Trump. The "New York Times" has since called Merkel "the liberal West's last defender."