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Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany, the de facto leader of the European Union and considered by some to be the leader of the free world.
Born in 1954 in Hamburg, West Germany, Angela Merkel was the daughter of a Lutheran pastor named Horst Kasner and Herlind, his wife, a English and Latin teacher. In her adolescence, Merkel joined the Free German Youth, the youth movement of the Socialist Unity Party. She went to school in East Berlin, where she became fluent in Russian, winning awards for her mastery of the language as well as mathematics. From 1973 to 1978, she studied physics at the University of Leipzig, and later, received her doctorate in quantum chemistry from the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof.
Following the fall of Berlin Wall, she joined the Democratic Awakening, which later merged with the East German Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In 1990, she ran for public office and was elected to the Bundestag, a legislative body of the German federal government.
Leader of the Opposition
On April 10th, 2000, Merkel became the first female leader of a German party, the CDU. Her win was a shock to many within the party, given that Merkel is a centrist Protestant in a male-dominated socially conservative party with Catholic roots. However, her campaign for a fresh-start for the party won out.
Merkel quickly became popular among Germans, who wanted her to run for Chancellor in 2002. After winning re-election that year for the CDU head, Merkel became Leader of the Opposition in the Bundestag, favoring reform for Germany's economic and social systems in an effort to make the country more competitive on the world stage and to strengthen ties to the United States.
Chancellor of Germany
On November 22nd, 2005, Merkel became the Chancellor of Germany. Following a stalemate election, the SPD grand coalition approved her leadership. She has since won three subsequent elections.
During the 2015 European Migrant Crisis, Merkel's profile rose throughout the world. Unlike many in the EU, she ended the enforcement of EU regulations for asylum seekers and pledged to give general refuge to Syrians fleeing civil war. That year, TIME magazine named her Person of the Year, calling her the "Chancellor of the Free World" on the cover.
In addition to her stance on refugees, the rise of right-wing, nationalist politics in Europe, specifically in regards to Brexit and the 2016 Election of President Donald Trump, Merkel's profile continued to rise. The New York Times called her the Liberal West's Last Defender and the "leader of the free world." Additionally, following the Brexit decision in 2016, she has become the de facto leader of the European Union.
Forbes has been named the the world's second most powerful person behind Vladimir Putin. As of 2016, she is the third most powerful person and the most powerful woman, according to Forbes.
As of March 2016, she had a 60% approval rating among german citizens.
Neuland, German for “virgin territory,” is a term used by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to describe the current state of the Internet during a joint press conference with President Barack Obama in Berlin on June 19th, 2013.
Chancellor Merkel’s remark was instantly met by derisive comments on Twitter, with many German Internet users ridiculing her use of the term “neuland” as being out of touch with the progress that has been made in the field. When discussing cybersecurity, she said:
“We talked about questions of the Internet in the context of PRISM. We talked at great length about the new possibilities and about also the new threats that the Internet opens up to all of us. The Internet is new territory, uncharted territory to all of us. And it also enables our enemies. It enables enemies of a free, liberal order, to use it, to abuse it, to bring a threat to all of us, to threaten our way of life. And this is why we value cooperation with the United States on questions of security.”
Shortly after making the comments, the word "neuland" began trending on Twitter and many parodies about the word sprang up around the internet (shown below).
Angela Merkel and Barack Obama at G7 Summit
Angela Merkel and Barack Obama at G7 Summit refers to a photograph of the two heads of state having a conversation to the picturesque backdrop of the German Alps during the 41st meeting held in Schloss Elmau, Krün, Bavaria, Germany on June 7th, 2015.
Upon entering online circulation, the photograph quickly became a subject of a photoshop meme on Twitter.
Handshakes With President Trump
Since the beginning of the Trump presidency, many have commented on his antagonistic relationship with Chancellor Merkel, citing their first meeting as a prime example. On March 17th, 2017, Merkel visited the White House for the first time.
After the two visited privately in the Oval Office, they posed for photographs, a traditional procedure for visiting dignitaries. However, the moment became a source of commentary when Trump, despite pleas from photographers and a request from Merkel herself, refused to shake the Chancellor's hand (video below).
Once the video and picture of Trump's supposed snub, the image became the source of memes and online mockery on Twitter.
On July 6th, 2017, Merkel and Trump met, once again, this time at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. When the two took the stage together, they shook hands (shown below).
Many online were quick to comment on the surprised and confused appearance of both Trump and Merkel. This became the subject of mockery on Twitter, as people captioned the photo with various humorous and absurd scenarios, recontextualizing the photograph.
Shortly after this photograph hit the internet, another image of Trump and Merkel made the rounds. Captured, again, at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, this photograph of Merkel, head in hands, as Trump talked to her, became a popular inspiration for image macros.
Angela Merkel made more handshake-related news, when she was the first to publish the handshake between Trump and Putin. Germany's Bundesregierung put a small video camera on their photographer, filming the meeting between Trump and Putin (shown below) and posting it to their Facebook page.
Merkel-Raute, German for "Merkel rhombus," refers to Merkel's signature hand gesture she makes by resting her hands on her stomach so that her fingertips meet and her index finger and thumbs form a quadrangular shape. Sometimes referred to as the "Merkel diamond," it is widely considered one of the most recognizable hand gestures in the world. Merkel says that she uses it because "it contains a certain symmetry."
The CDU has appropriated the Merkel-Raute as a branding tool, and frequently uses the emoticon "<>" to represent Merkel. During her 2013 re-election campaign, the CDU used the hand gesture as a recognizable symbol for the candidate. Giant campaign posters featuring just Merkel's hands began appearing in Germany, a testament to the German people's familiarity with the gesture.
The large-scale, digital version of the Merkel-Raute inspired the Tumblr page Merkelraute, in which the user would photoshop a top half of the pictures, lining up the pictures of her hands with another, generally, more absurd picture.8]
 Wikipedia – "Angela Merkel":://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel
 TIME – Chancellor of the World
 The Independent – Angela Merkel branded new 'leader of the free world' as Trump and Brexit preoccupy Western powers
 Forbes – Angela Merkel
 DW – Chancellor Merkel's approval rating rises in polls as parties stay close
 The Guardian – 'Merkel diamond' takes centre stage in German election campaign
 Tumblr – MerkelRaute
Jul 07, 2017 at 06:01PM EDT
Jul 07, 2017 at 05:50PM EDT
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