“In East Germany,” she says, “we always ran into boundaries before we were able to discover our own personal boundaries.”
Angela Merkel’s Moment
By CATHERINE MAYER / BERLIN
Diminutive in the imposing vastness of her office, Angela Merkel appears surprisingly frail for someone who’s spent the past 20 years upending political norms. Now 55, Merkel, Germany’s first Chancellor raised in the communist East, is the head of a democratic form of government and the guardian of individual freedoms that she was denied until her 30s. She outsmarted phalanxes of gray-haired, gray-suited machine politicians to set two other precedents, becoming the first woman to occupy the Chancellery as well as its youngest incumbent. Then in September, after four tricky years helming a coalition that yoked her conservative Christian Democrat bloc with the Social Democratic Party, she won a new mandate, with center-right coalition partners of her choosing. Now, as the emboldened leader of Europe’s most populous nation and most powerful economy, Merkel has the ability to make her personality and priorities count on a global stage. But what, exactly, does she want to do with her power? And how will she go about doing it?