Angela Merkel: The captain leaves the ship

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's steady-as-she-goes approach has - for the most part - steered her country well through 16 years of both smooth and rough seas. Here is a look back at key events that defined her time at the helm as she heads for the exit when Germany goes to the polls on Sunday.

More than a reformer, Dr Angela Merkel was seen as the helmswoman steering the good ship Germany through rough waters. PHOTO: AFP
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In her early political days, Dr Angela Merkel - who steps down as German chancellor after federal elections on Sunday - had to learn the brutality of an election campaign the hard way.

It was in 2005, when she ran for the first time as the top candidate of her party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Believing that people would honour honesty and truth, the politician from eastern Germany did not mince words. She talked openly about the need for change, liberal economic reform and, most of all, announced that if she were elected, the VAT (value-added tax) rate would increase by 2 percentage points.

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