Angela Merkel departs her post after 16 years in German politics

Merkel was Germany's first female chancellor

Updated: December 7, 2021 - 12:08pm

Germany's first female chancellor, Angela Merkel, officially left office Tuesday, stepping away from her post after her successor Olaf Scholz signed a coalition agreement.

Merkel, who was sworn in in 2005, ran and mostly governed as a center-right Christian Democrat. She was raised a communist in East Germany and became a scientist before entering the political fray.

She retired from her role one week shy of becoming Germany's longest ever leader – a record held by Helmut Kohl. She served through the tenures of four U.S. presidents, five British prime ministers,and four French leaders.

"We have been able to overcome many crises in a spirit of respect, in an effort always to find common solutions," she said on Monday. "But we also have a series of unresolved problems, and there are big unfinished tasks for my successor."

Germany is currently the epicenter of the current European wave of coronavirus cases.