Angela Dorothea Merkel, German: [aŋˈɡeːla doʁoˈteːa ˈmɛʁkl̩] ( listen); née Kasner (born 17 July 1954) is the Chancellor of Germany and Chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Merkel is the first female Chancellor of Germany.
A physical chemist by professional background, Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989 and briefly served as the deputy spokesperson for Lothar de Maizière's democratically elected East German government prior to the German reunification. Following reunification in 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag, where she has represented the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern since. She served as Federal Minister for Women and Youth 1991–1994 and as Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety 1994–1998 in Helmut Kohl's fourth and fifth cabinets. She was Secretary General of the CDU 1998–2000, and was elected chairperson in 2000. From 2002 to 2005, she was also chair of the CDU/CSU parliamentary coalition.
After her election as Chancellor following the 2005 federal election, she led a grand coalition consisting of her own CDU party, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), until 2009. In the 2009 federal election, the CDU obtained the largest share of the votes, and formed a coalition government with the CSU and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).
In 2007, Merkel was President of the European Council and chaired the G8, the second woman (after Margaret Thatcher) to do so. She played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Berlin Declaration. One of her priorities was also to strengthen transatlantic economic relations by signing the agreement for the Transatlantic Economic Council on 30 April 2007. Merkel is seen as playing a crucial role in managing the financial crisis at the European and international level, and has been referred to as "the decider." In domestic policy, health care reform and problems concerning future energy development have been major issues of her tenure.
Angela Merkel has for several years been described as the world’s most powerful woman and as "the de facto leader of the European Union".http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_MerkelJoachim Gauck
Joachim Gauck pronounced [joːˈʔaxiːm ɡaʊ̯k] (born 24 January 1940 in Rostock) is the current President of Germany (since 18 March 2012). A former Lutheran pastor, he came to prominence as an anti-communist civil rights activist in East Germany.
During the Peaceful Revolution, he was a co-founder of the New Forum opposition movement in East Germany, which contributed to the downfall of the Soviet-backed dictatorship of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). In 1990 he served as a member of the only freely elected People's Chamber for the Alliance 90. Following German reunification, he was elected by the Bundestag as the first Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives, serving from 1990 to 2000. As Federal Commissioner, he earned recognition as a "Stasi hunter" and "tireless pro-democracy advocate," exposing the crimes of the former communist secret police.
He was nominated as the candidate of the SPD and the Greens for President of Germany in the 2010 election, but narrowly lost to Christian Wulff, the candidate of the government coalition. His candidacy was met by significant approval of the population and the media; Der Spiegel described him as "the better President" and the Bild called him "the president of hearts." After Christian Wulff had stepped down, Gauck was elected President with 991 of 1228 votes in the Federal Convention in the 2012 election, as a nonpartisan consensus candidate of the CDU, the CSU, the FDP, the SPD and the Greens.
A son of a survivor of a Soviet Gulag, Gauck's political life was formed by his own family's experiences with totalitarianism. Gauck was a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, together with Václav Havel and other statesmen, and the Declaration on Crimes of Communism. He has called for increased awareness of communist crimes in Europe, and for the necessity of delegitimizing the communist era. His 2012 book Freedom. A Plea calls for the defense of freedom and human rights around the globe. He has been described by Chancellor Angela Merkel as a "true teacher of democracy" and a "tireless advocate of freedom, democracy, and justice." The Wall Street Journal has described him as "the last of a breed: the leaders of protest movements behind the Iron Curtain who went on to lead their countries after 1989." He has received numerous honours, including the 1997 Hannah Arendt Prize.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joachim_Gauck