I.n the fall of 2002, Angela Merkel lost an election and won a friend. The defeat in the Bundestag election in September was preceded by her party’s forced renunciation of her own candidacy for chancellor at the beginning of the year. In November, however, the CDU chairwoman Merkel flew to Paris. There she wanted to help Jacques Chirac, the French president who had just won his re-election, in his endeavors to form a new party out of his supporters. Three years later, in autumn 2005, Angela Merkel also won an election. And soon a friend, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The newly elected Chancellor immediately rendered both of them a service of friendship. At the next EU summit, her first as the German head of government, she untied the knot that Blair, Chirac and others had previously tied in a serious dispute over the next seven-year budget of the European Union. This success, achieved after less than three months in her tenure as Chancellor, established Angela Merkel’s foreign policy reputation – a reputation to which she has contributed thorough preparation and personal qualities.