Angela Merkel: Conquerer of political rivals

Politics

'Kohl's girl' leaves moniker behind

Longtime Chancellor Helmut Kohl gave Merkel her first cabinet post and facilitated her rise. After losing the chancellorship in 1998, his onetime acolyte turned her back and that of their Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on him. Merkel, then CDU secretary general, said Kohl, who had accepted a cash donation from sources he refused to reveal, had hurt the party. The CDU moved on without him.

Politics

Gerhard Schröder - end of a political career

Merkel was Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's undoing in the 2005 election, though his own vanity was also to blame. His Social Democrats (SPD) finished one point behind her conservative CDU/CSU alliance. On TV with Merkel and other party heads, Schröder insisted Germans had made clear they wanted him to stay. The others rebuffed his apparently absurd claim. She became chancellor. He quit politics.

Politics

Frank-Walter Steinmeier - ever the partner

Frank-Walter Steinmeier had been Germany's foreign minister, serving under Merkel, for nearly four years when the Social Democrat challenged her in the 2009 election. Many people said the SPD's heavy defeat was because of his lack of a popular touch. But he bounced back and in 2013 returned as the country's top diplomat, again with Merkel as the boss. He became Germany's president in March 2017.

Politics

Günther Oettinger - out of the way

Eliminating competitors doesn't always mean forcing them off the political scene. Merkel dispatched her party colleague and potential rival Günther Oettinger, premier of the state of Baden-Württemberg, to a top job in the European Commission in 2010. Oettinger had no track record in EU politics and even then was known for sticking his foot in his mouth. He is on his third position as commissioner.

Politics

Roland Koch - left out in the cold

Roland Koch was known in some parts for his friendship with the Dalai Lama, in others for collecting millions of signatures to catapult the government's plans for dual citizenship. The state premier of Hesse was part of a clique of CDU men who never anticipated Merkel's rise, and then were sure they'd outlast her. Koch waited in vain to be offered a job in Berlin. In the end, she outlasted him.

Politics

Christian Wulff - an unfortunate president

Christian Wulff wasn't Merkel's first pick for president, but left in a pinch when Horst Köhler resigned in 2010, party leaders wouldn't to agree to Ursula von der Leyen, now defense minister. The choice of Wulff, the CDU state premier of Lower Saxony who had been rumored to be unhappy in his position, came as a surprise to him, too. He resigned over corruption charges and was later acquitted.

Politics

Peer Steinbrück - right man, wrong time

Merkel had reached the peak of her career by the time the SPD decided Peer Steinbrück should run against her in the 2013 election. She was unchallenged in her party and had come to dominate managing the euro and debt crisis in Brussels. Steinbrück, a finance minister under Merkel and ex-state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, had the expertise to be chancellor, but he had little chance.

Even before the 2017 election, Angela Merkel showed a knack for neutralizing or sidelining politicians who got in her way. This applies as much to members of her own party as to rivals in other parties.