Kati Marton at Literary Review:
For much of her sixteen years in office as Germany’s chancellor, Angela Dorothea Merkel, née Kasner, has been ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’, to quote Churchill’s famous dictum on the Soviet Union. Her meteoric rise defied all rational explanation. A woman from East Germany, a scientist with an inbuilt aversion to straddling the political stage and mounting the bully pulpit: how could she succeed in a country with a conservative mind-set which had all but closed out women from professional advancement?
Merkel had other drawbacks, too, which in her own eyes militated against her ascent. In June 2005, in the middle of her campaign to be elected chancellor, she approached Tony Blair, who was visiting Berlin, for advice, telling him, ‘I have the following problems: I am a woman, I have no charisma, and I’m not good at communicating.’