Germany's incoming chancellor, Angela Merkel, is no stranger to German politics, having served as a member of parliament, cabinet minister, and conservative party leader.
The 51-year-old Hamburg-born physicist moved to east Germany as a child and joined the opposition in 1989 as communism began to collapse.
She was first elected to the reunified German parliament the following year and in 1991, became minister for women and youth under Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Three years later, she became environmental minister where she faced controversy over the government's handling of nuclear waste shipments.
She became head of the Christian Democratic Union in 2000.
Although she is a fiscal conservative, Ms. Merkel is considered to be a moderate on such social issues as abortion and gay rights.