Having initially trained as a physical chemist, Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989, briefly serving as the deputy spokesperson for the East German Government. Following reunification in 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag for Stralsund-Nordvorpommern-Rügen in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a position she has held since. She was later appointed as the Federal Minister for Women and Youth in 1991 under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, being promoted to become Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in 1994. After the CDU/CSU coalition was defeated in 1998, she was elected Secretary-General of the CDU, before being elected the party's first ever female Leader in 2000.
Following the 2005 federal election, she was appointed Germany's first female Chancellor at the head of 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). In the 2009 federal election, the CDU obtained the largest share of the vote, and Merkel was able to form a coalition government with the support of the CSU and the 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 been described as "the de facto leader of the European Union" and is currently ranked as the world's second most powerful person by the Forbes magazine, the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman.