For 16 years, German chancellor Angela Merkel has guided her country through wave after wave of uncertainty, from the 2008 global financial crisis to Brexit, the imperative to drop fossil fuels, and of course the COVID pandemic. Her leadership of the European Union’s largest economy has been described as one of assurance and sure-handedness and an anchor amid stormy times, and she has been called “the de facto leader of Europe”.

Merkel has outlasted seven Australian prime ministers, and there can be no single explanation for her long stretch of success. However, her career and training as a scientist presents useful insights.

As Merkel declines a fifth term and leaves her office this month, world politics loses another scientist. In Australia we find ourselves wondering, yet again: “Across all our politics – where are the scientists?”

The scientist and the leader

Globally, there have been shining examples of…

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