Ms. Merkel's assend to the top in German political scene is quite interesting.
As a student of physics she must have keen eyes and ears for natural laws of our world, and perhaps could bring Germany a long sought equilibriam between two bitterly divided factions, the right and left into a common ground. Is it too much to ask for? Her pro-war stance certainly is disturbing, but perhaps that can prove to be usual misstep of many politicians in their journey toward maturity.
Angela Merkel: Politician Who Can Show a Flash of Steel
FRANKFURT, Oct. 10 - On Nov. 9, 1989, the day the Berlin Wall fell, Angela Merkel made her weekly visit to a sauna. Hours later, she caught up with thousands of East Germans, who were streaming jubilantly into the West. It was not the last time her rendezvous with German history was delayed.
On Monday, three weeks after a deadlocked election that she had once been expected to win handily, Mrs. Merkel finally emerged as the designated leader of Germany's next government.
To get the job, she had to make major concessions to the departing chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, and his party. And her ascension must still be ratified in a vote in Parliament, to be held next month.
Still, those provisos should not obscure Mrs. Merkel's achievement: at 51, she is poised to become the first woman to serve as chancellor of Germany and the first eastern German to lead the reunified country.
Mrs. Merkel's journey from Protestant minister's daughter in East Germany to the pinnacle of German politics - as the boss of a male-dominated, Catholic-leaning conservative party - is so improbable that it has left political analysts here grasping for what she might do as chancellor.
"With that kind of background, she obviously has extraordinary gifts," said Ulrich von Alemann, a professor of politics at the University of Düsseldorf. "But her career has also been marked by chance and good fortune. It's very difficult to predict what kind of role she will play."
Mrs. Merkel, he said, is a genuinely new figure in politics, someone who could potentially bridge the two halves of Germany, which have drifted apart in recent years, as the financial burden of reunification and a stagnant eastern economy has bred mutual resentment.
And yet the attenuated circumstances of her victory underscore the reservations Germans have about her. She was chosen not with a rousing popular mandate, but after protracted backroom negotiations between her party, the Christian Democratic Union, and the Social Democrats of Mr. Schröder.
Despite her political odyssey, much remains of the regimented young woman who kept her date at the sauna that day. Dogged, earnest, almost willfully bland, Mrs. Merkel is an unlikely historic figure.
"She has a cool personality," said Gerd Langguth, who has written a biography of Mrs. Merkel. "She does not easily express her emotions. That may explain why people have difficulty identifying with her."
Even her politics defy easy categorization. Mrs. Merkel's firsthand experience of Communism has left her with a fervent conviction about the power of free markets, according to analysts. But she is unlikely to become a German Margaret Thatcher - Maggie Merkel, as some here hopefully put it - especially now that she must share power with the Social Democrats.
Others see in her background a champion of democracy, a leader more naturally inclined to support the policies of President Bush, as she did on Iraq, than was Mr. Schröder. Yet her most notable foreign-policy position has been to oppose Turkey's entry into the European Union.
Until recently, when she spruced up her wardrobe and began wearing her hair in a stylish layered cut, Mrs. Merkel looked as if she would still be at home in the drab confines of East Germany. While campaigning, she projected a stern image, offering few glimpses of her personal side.
Mrs. Merkel, who has no children, is married to a chemistry professor, Joachim Sauer. He steers clear of her political career. She is said to like cooking for friends, and has a soft spot for the actor Dustin Hoffman.
Even in victory, though, she remains less popular personally than the avuncular Mr. Schröder. In part, that has to do with her stubborn refusal to turn herself into a symbol - either of East Germany and its reunification with the West, or of women and their changing role in German society.
Eastern Germans yearning for an advocate have been disappointed by how little she focuses on their plight. Women did not turn out to vote in droves to show solidarity with her precedent-setting career.
"She is a stranger to most Germans," Mr. Langguth said, explaining why she faded in the election. "Many East Germans think of her as a West German, while West Germans think she is an East German."
In truth, she is both.
Born in Hamburg on July 17, 1954, to a Protestant minister, Horst Kasner, and his wife, Herlind, Angela Dorothea Kasner was three months old when her father was asked to take over a country church in Brandenburg.
Growing up in an intellectual household, Angela excelled in school and hoped to become a teacher and translator. But because of her father's pastoral work, she found those careers closed to her. So in 1973, she opted to study physics at Leipzig University.
As an 8-year-old, Angela could rattle off the names of the ministers in the West German government. Yet as a young adult, she showed little interest in politics. Instead, she worked toward a Ph.D. in physics and married a fellow student, Ulrich Merkel; they divorced in 1982.
Mrs. Merkel was settling in to a career at the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin in 1989, when the wall fell. A month later, she joined a coalition of pro-democracy parties. "It was clear they were going to need people," she said in a typically circumspect interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
That coalition was absorbed into the Christian Democrats, and Mrs. Merkel found her party. Mr. Langguth suggested that she was reacting in part to her father, with whom she has had a fraught relationship.
Mrs. Merkel became the spokeswoman for Lothar de Maizière , a lawyer chosen to wind down the affairs of the East German state. In the first post-reunification election, she won a seat in Parliament, and later a cabinet post in the government of Helmut Kohl.
He famously referred to Mrs. Merkel as "the girl," but rewarded her with a series of powerful posts. She proved herself to be a skillful political player, unafraid to eviscerate rivals. In 1999, after Mr. Kohl had been implicated in a financial scandal, Mrs. Merkel cut loose her old mentor.
"The party must learn to walk," she said at the time. "It must trust itself to fight its political opponents without its old battle horses."
It was a brazen act of rebellion. But within months, Mrs. Merkel was elected party leader. "The episode symbolized that she is capable of making unexpected decisions in difficult situations," Mr. Langguth said.