- 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.
Essen, Germany | AFP |.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 patronising 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.
- 'Madame non' -
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 eurozone struggled to kickstart growth, Merkel came under intense pressure to boost government spending.
But she stuck to the mantra of balancing the books. France was particularly frustrated by her resistance, and for Paris politicians she became "Madame non".
- 'We'll manage this' -
In 2015, hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war in mostly Arab nations including Syria and Iraq headed to Europe. Instead of shutting Germany's borders, Merkel decided in September of that year to waive a key EU asylum rule for Syrians.
Around a million asylum seekers have arrived since, deeply polarising public opinion in Germany.
While some have hailed her as Mother Angela, others have said her refugee policy was a recipe for disaster.
But Merkel has faced down dissent, insisting that "we'll manage this".
- Leader of the free world -
When Donald Trump won the US presidential election, Merkel broke with tradition in her congratulatory message as she tied future cooperation to democratic values.
The two countries' relationship must be based on "values of democracy, freedom, respect for the rule of law and human dignity, regardless of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political belief", she stressed.
The unusual message led some to crown her the new "leader of the free world", a term usually reserved for the president of the United States.
She scoffed at such talk, saying it was "grotesque and absurd" to think that any one person, and "certainly not a German chancellor", could tackle the world's problems.