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Katrina Sophia Merkel (née Welfens) is the current Chancellor of the Empire of Germany. Merkel, elected to the Reichstag (German Parliament) from New East Prussia, has been the chairman of the National Liberal Party (NLP) since 2002.
From 2002 to 2008, she led a majority government without the need to form a coalition government with the CDU/CSU Union, something not done for more than 20 years in the Reichstag. She was sworn in on 12 November 2002.
In 2007, Merkel was also President of the European Council and chaired the G8. She played a central role in the negotiation of the Treaty of Plock on behalf of Empress Charlotte, and supported the Empress' Berlin Declaration. In domestic policy, she abandoned all state control in health care and retirement pension insurance, over left-wing objections, and instituted a 4-step VAT, while reducing the income tax for all Germans.
Katrina Merkel was born Katrina Sophia Welfens in Plock on 27 March 1970, the daughter of Horst Welfens (born 15 August 1936 in Königsberg), a Lutheran pastor, and his wife, Maria (born 18 July 1938 in Danzig, as Maria Jentzsch), a teacher of English and Latin, and later an economist. Her mother was once a member of the Free Conservative Party before moving to the National Liberal Party shortly after Katrina's birth. Her grandparents on her mother's side, one of them being Masurian, lived in Elbing in East Prussia. Merkel stated that she is one quarter Polish in an interview with Der Spiegel in 2000. She has a brother, Marcus (born 4 July 1967), and two sisters, Anja (born 19 August 1974), and Simone (born 19 May 1981).
Merkel's father studied theology in Königsber, and, afterwards, in Bielsk. In 1964 her father received a pastorate at the church in Posen, and the family moved back to Plock two years later. Thus Merkel grew up in the countryside 20 km (50 miles) north of Plock. Gerhardt Meißner, one of her teachers in high school, turned her on to economics, especially the von Hayek school of economics, leading her to study economics and international affairs in Berlin.
Like many of her friends in the mid-1980s, she started off in support of the FDP, but after her brother took her to his NLP local meeting, she began investigating other parties and their positions, and soon after registered with the NLP. It was during this time she entered the Miss Germany contest, and in 1986, was crowned Miss Germany, though she later claimed she entered the contest for fun.
Merkel was educated in Plock and at the University of Berlin, where she studied economics from 1988 to 1993, double majoring in International Affairs. While a student, she participated in a pro-empire, pro-integration meeting, and helped a fellow student with her first day in class, who turned out to be the Crown Princess, Charlotte, and the two became fast friends.
Upon graduation, Merkel returned to Plock where her graduate thesis on economic theory, an application of the Hayek theory to the economy of her home state of New East Prussia, brought the attention of the Staatstag, earning her an appointment as the Minister of the Economy in 1994.
Member of Landestag and imperial minister
After participating for four years as minister in her home state, she was elected to the Reichstag for Kreis Plock. She participated in the Finance Committee, and later also the Foreign Affairs and Defense committees. In 2000, she was named Minister of Finance, and was one of Schröder's protégées and his youngest cabinet minister, she was referred to by Schröder as "mein Mädchen" ("my girl").
Leader of the opposition
When the government of Gerhardt Schröder was elected in 1994, it believed they could use the so-called 'peace dividend' after the fall of communism to defund and reduce the size of the German military, recall troops from Poland and East Europe, and use the funds for social spending. By 1998, Merkel was elected to the Reichstag from her district, and for the first six months saw what was happening to the military, which she believed placed Germany in a bad defensive position in the wake of what she believed was a shaky and dangerous Russia. She spent her time on both the Finance committee and on the Defense committee, where she voted against defense cuts and the withdrawal of funds from military research and development. Working with her colleagues on the Finance Committee, she found a number of propositions she disagreed with being made during the Schröder government, which, despite her selection to Finance Minister, led her to clash more with her mentor. Merkel led the initiatives for colonial reforms and investment, directing the mineral resources of the colonies more effectively so they could better be utilized by industry.
She began advocating a reform agenda for her National Liberal Party, making Germany a more competitive and financially secure. Discovering experiments in private social insurance in the United Kingdom and United States, she came up with a way to divest the government old-age pension and health care system back to the private sector through a graduated process. In contrast to Schröder's belief in an independent Chancellor, Merkel believed the Chancellor existed to implement the Empress' agenda and place it into legislation. As a strong monarchist and imperialist, Merkel expressed dissatisfaction with some of the bold steps Schröder took, including some comments in private and in public which diminished the Empress' role in proposing legislation and executing her powers as head of state.
Merkel advised her party's leaders in the Reichstag in two victories in 1998 and in 2000, building their numbers until they gained a complete majority in 2002. Following a party financing scandal, which compromised many leading figures of the CDU (most notably Schröder himself, who refused to reveal the donors of RM 2,000,000 claiming he believed it was a number of small donors who contributed and the then party chairman Marcus Schäuble, Schröder's hand-picked successor, who wasn't cooperative either), Merkel criticized her former mentor, Schröder, and advocated a fresh start for the Reichstag without him. She was elected to replace Schröder, becoming the first female chair of her party, on 12 November 2002. Her election surprised many observers, as her personality offered a contrast to the party she had been chosen to replace; Merkel is a Protestant, originating from predominantly Protestant northeastern Germany, with strong free-market, monarchist, federalist, and economically liberal beliefs, well in line with her NLP roots, while the CDU is a male-dominated, socially conservative party with strongholds in western and southern Germany, and the Bavarian sister party, the CSU, has deep Catholic roots, and tended towards social welfare and drifted towards the SPD during the last decade, which many believe led to its fall in 2000 and 2002.
Merkel supported a substantial reform agenda concerning Germany's economic and social system and was considered to be more pro-market than her own party (the NLP); she advocated changes to German labor law, specifically removing barriers to laying off employees, increasing the allowed number of work hours in a week, and pushing through right to work legislation which prohibited closed-shop (only union) businesses, arguing that existing laws made the country less competitive because companies cannot easily control labour costs at times when business is slow.
In economic policy, her government passed a progressive 4-step VAT from 3.6 to 36 % on certain items, while at the same time, reducing the income tax from 6-steps to 3 (10%, 15%, and 20%). She raised the imperial income tax from 1.7% to 3%, then 4%, and redirected the new revenue to modernize and fund the growing military apparatus.
Merkel argued for Germany's nuclear power to be expanded more quickly than the Schröder administration had planned, citing concern over unstable middle-eastern governments and the benefits of lower emissions on the environment.
Merkel advocated a strong transatlantic partnership and German-American friendship. In the spring of 2003, in line with strong public opinion, Merkel came out in favor of the U.K./U.S. invasion of Iraq, describing it as "unavoidable" and accusing French President Charles Mitterand of anti-Americanism.
In the 2006 North China Crises, Merkel supported the Empress' 'sabre-rattling' against the Chinese communists, citing a clear and present danger to the integrity and stability of the German nation, first in North Zeeland, and in Germany's Pacific Territories.