Angela Merkel makes first public appearance since leaving office

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Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was greeted with applause as she made her first public appearance since leaving office. In Berlin, she took part in the convention that reelected President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

There were 1,437 delegates taking part in the federal convention, which on Sunday reelected German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, but it was former Chancellor Angela Merkel who was singled out for an initial round of applause on Sunday.

It was Merkel’s first public appearance since handing over the reins of the Chancellery to her successor, Olaf Scholz, in December.

German parliament President Bärbel Bas thanked Germany’s long-time leader for her years of service to the country. 

Merkel spoke with several current members of government, including Chancellor Scholz, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Finance Minister Christian Lindner and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. She also spoke with Friedrich Merz, her long-time inner-party opponent and current head of the now-opposition Christian Democratic Union.

Two months after leaving office, it’s the places Merkel hasn’t appeared that have garnered some attention in Germany. She chose not to attend a Christian Democratic Union virtual party conference and also skipped the meeting of the local constituency that elected her. Merkel also turned down a job offer to work for the United Nations as the chair of an advisory body on global public goods.

Like delegates at the convention, the German press was also happy to see Merkel in public. A headline in Der Spiegel news magazine declared her the “star” of the convention.

Though the vote to elect the German president is secret, it was Merkel who helped Steinmeier, her foreign minister at the time, to his first term as Germany’s head of state in 2017.

Merkel was German chancellor for 16 years and a part of the German parliament for 30. 

Photo – German Finance Minister Christian Lindner (L) and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) during the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) at the Paul Loebe Haus in Berlin, Germany, 13 February 2022. EPA-EFE/SASCHA STEINBACH / POOL

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