After 16 years, Merkel has officially left her post. Michael Sohn AFP Getty Images
Germany has elected their new leader, and it’s the country’s first openly gay leader: Andrea Nahles became the nation’s first female and openly gay party leader on Tuesday.
As Angela Merkel prepares to step down, and handed the keys to power to her would-be successor, a momentous morning dawned in Germany. Angela Merkel’s successful strategy of upholding liberal values of the European Union—she has weathered wars, communism, recession and recession—has become an unquestioned lodestar in the world.
But now Merkel is about to step down as Germany’s chancellor and become an absentee party leader, and her hopeful party could turn—or worse—into a party in opposition. That is, of course, unless Nahles is able to unite her party.
The third of 12 children, Nahles was born into an upper-middle class home in Bonn. Her father, Hannes Hößes, was a Protestant pastor, and her mother, Sonja Vogel, served as a typist at the local paper. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Bonn in 1978, and became an economics teacher at a nearby high school.
As the founding President of the Left Party, she has served as health minister, state minister, and vice chancellor, and has advocated for more rights for the working class. She was elected the party’s first female leader in March, after she shepherded it from the edge of oblivion into a force capable of filling the polling booth.