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Four Corners: Angela Merkel Mon 18 Oct on ABC TV

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Four Corners airing on Monday 18 October on ABC TV offers up a profile of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This was originally made by TV channel France 5.

“Angela Merkel is a person of extraordinary discipline.” Annette Schavan, Former German Education Minister

For 16 years, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been on the world stage as a trailblazing leader. While running one of the most powerful nations on the globe, she has often been the only female decision maker in the room.

“Over the years, she has really learned to use the vanity of some men to her advantage.” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Now, after 30 years in politics and four terms in office, Angela Merkel has chosen to leave public life at the height of her popularity. No other world leader has left office at a time of their own choosing after such a long tenure at the pinnacle of power.

“Everybody underestimated her.” Volker Schlondorff, filmmaker

Despite her stature and years in the spotlight, she has remained an enigma. In this fascinating portrait, the program traces Angela Merkel’s life story and how she rose to power and wielded it.

“She’s not a woman who’s going to get the crowd on its feet, but she’s a strong woman. And simply by way of her embodiment of Europe, she is a great European.” Nicolas Sarkozy, former French President

Angela Merkel’s life story is laid out in interviews with those who have known her across the decades. From her childhood and teenage years in East Germany at the height of the Cold War, a picture emerges of a studious reserved young woman.

“She won’t like us talking about her, but never mind!” Volker Schlöndorff, childhood friend

Her entry and success in politics was by no means assured. Again and again she stared down and outsmarted the many men who patronised and tried to sideline her.

“They didn’t want this woman to come to power and she understood that.” Alice Schwarzer, feminist and political editor

Her focus was on ideas, not on appearances, and her Soviet era childhood did not prepare her for the scrutiny she would face.

“It was a bit traumatic for her…She didn’t expect this. She’s from the east, she’s a physicist, she’s a Protestant…She has her own style. She’s not the worldly woman, she’s not the sexy woman, she’s not the intellectual woman… she’s the every woman.” Alice Schwarzer, feminist and political editor

Former world leaders, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speak openly about their dealings with her and reflect upon her influence on global events.

“There was a meeting of minds from the first moment. She was quite different from the other chancellors I met. Very calm, much less assertive, much less aggressive but with a quiet authority.” Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

As she prepares to leave politics behind, her supporters say her legacy is a lesson in leadership.

“You have to go against the tide because only when you have vision, can you lead.” Michael Schindhelm, friend

Airdate: Monday 18 October 2021 at 8.30pm on ABC TV and iview.