The 100 Most Powerful Women
#1 Angela Merkel
08.31.06, 6:00 PM ET

Angela Merkel
© AP Photo

Tired of battling disgruntled government officials and voters, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder called for early elections last year. Big mistake. It bounced him out of his position and brought pro-market Merkel, the head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, to power. The first female chancellor in Germany's history, and the first woman to lead Germany since it became a nation-state in 1871, Merkel is a favorite of German business. From humble beginnings as a Lutheran pastor's daughter in Hamburg, she graduated with a doctorate of physics from the University of Leipzig. Unassuming and diplomatically astute, Merkel was later named secretary-general of the Christian Democratic Union, Germany's largest conservative political party, after the Kohl government fell in 1998. Along with her pro-free-market reform agenda, Merkel advocates a strong German-American relationship, evidenced by her support of the proposals to bring Iran to the nuclear negotiating table. Merkel has been overhauling the government's health care system and cumbersome corporate tax policies. She has also put her strict budgetary imprint on the sprawling European Union budget debates. With her conciliatory powers, Merkel has managed to maintain impressive approval ratings both home and abroad. —Tatiana Serafin

Published sources include the women's official biographies, Factiva, International Who's Who of 2005, Marquis Who's Who, World Almanac of Famous People, Palgrave Who's Who 2005, the Congressional Yellow Book, the Judicial Yellow Book, Europa World Year Book, Hoover's Online, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, World Economic Forum, the World Book Encyclopedia. Rankings generated by combining various financial figures with other media and biography metrics; global media mentions from Factiva.

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