Burying the Hatchet

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel shake hands at the presentation of Mr. Schröder's biography. Ms. Merkel presented the book to the public.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Political rivals Angela Merkel and Gerhard Schröder, two of Germany’s four living chancellors, met briefly on Tuesday on a Berlin stage, when Ms. Merkel introduced Mr. Schröder’s new biography.

  • Facts


    • Ms. Merkel’s conservatives defeated Mr. Schröder’s Social Democrats in 2005. At the time, Mr. Schröder was a sore loser during an election-night post-mortem with Ms. Merkel and other party leaders.
    • After his defeat, Mr. Schröder became a consultant for Russian gas company Gazprom, and has maintained ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
    • Mr. Schröder’s welfare cutbacks in 2003 cost him political support and perhaps reelection in 2005, but are now credited with setting Germany on path for long-term economic growth.
  • Audio


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Amid the European debt crisis and the urgent question of how to deal with thousands of refugees illegally pouring into Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel found time in Berlin on Tuesday to shake hands with one of her fiercest political archrivals, former chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The two faced each other during the 2005 elections, when Ms. Merkel was crowned victor.

The closely followed meeting and friendly gestures between Ms. Merkel and her predecessor marked a coming of age of sorts for both politicians, and a burying of the hatchet.

Back in 2005 Mr. Schröder had little nice to say about his former political foe on election night, when the two rivals appeared during a post-event analysis on German government television. During the awkward appearance, Mr. Schröder came off as ungracious, refusing to concede victory to his upstart challenger, even after state-run media had declared Ms. Merkel the winner.

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