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‘s 16-year reign as German Chancellor officially came to an end today as parliament elected her successor – Olaf Scholz – before she handed over control of the country to him.

In a moment reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s final day in office, an emotional Mrs Merkel was pictured on Wednesday waving goodbye from the window of a black Audi as she was driven away from the chancellery for the last time, thanking her staff and wishing her successor well.

Mrs Thatcher was photographed in similar fashion in November 1990 leaving Number 10 Downing Street in a car , tearfully leaning forward to have one last look at her famous former home.

With both Thatcher and Merkel being the first female leaders of their respective countries, similarities between the pair have naturally been drawn. Both , they each had science degrees and took office in their early 50s. Merkel and Thatcher also each played integral roles in shaping modern Europe.

Angela Merkel is driven away from the German chancellery building today as she departs her post after 16 years, with Olaf Scholz sworn in as the country's new leader

Angela Merkel is driven away from the German chancellery building today as she departs her post after 16 years, with Olaf Scholz sworn in as the country’s new leader

Pictured: Margaret Thatcher leaving 10 Downing Street for the last time as Prime Minister on Thursday, 22 November, 1990

Pictured: Margaret Thatcher leaving 10 Downing Street for the last time as Prime Minister on Thursday, 22 November, 1990

Mrs Merkel herself has spoken publicly about Mrs Thatcher in this light, saying in 2013 after her death: ‘She [Thatcher] was an extraordinary leader in global politics of her time.I will never forget her part in surmounting the division of Europe and at the end of the Cold War.

‘As she took the highest democratic offices as a woman before that was common, she set an example for many,’ Merkel added. ‘The liberty of the individual stood at the heart of her convictions.’

But while similarities have been drawn between the two, there are also a number of differences.Mrs Thatcher earned the nickname ‘The Iron Lady’, attributed to her uncompromising politics and leadership style. Merkel is known more affectionately as ‘Mutti’ – or mother – among many Germans.  

And while Mrs Merkel is seen as more of a consensus politician, Mrs Thatcher led by her convictions.

Their respective departures have also come under contrasting circumstances. In 1990, Thatcher resigned in acrimonious circumstances as leader of Britain’s Conservative party, after a leadership challenge was launched against her, leaving a polarising legacy on British politics.

Markel’s departure, meanwhile, has been far more congenial, and on her terms. But it has not come without disappointment to Germany’s maternal figure. While Merkel had ruled herself out of the 2021 election, her Christian Democratic party (the CDU) lost power in the election to the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

Even 30 years on from her resignation, Mrs Thatcher’s legacy in Britain is still a point of debate in the country. Mrs Merkel’s legacy will also likely be discussed for years to come, but it was the welfare of Germany she seemed most concerned with as she left the role of Chancellor on Wednesday.

‘Take ownership of this house and work with it for med care the good of our country – that is my wish,’ Merkel told Scholz, who previously worked as her finance minister before leading his party to victory at September’s election.

Scholz handed Mrs Merkel a bouquet of flowers, telling her that she had ‘achieved great’ things’ before vowing to work towards a ‘new beginning’ for Germany. 

Emmanuel Macron, who Scholz will visit on Friday on his first foreign trip as he hits the ground running, was among the first world leaders to congratulate him on the post – vowing to ‘work together for a united, strong and prosperous Europe.’

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were also among those sending their congratulations early, saying they hoped to increase cooperation with Germany in the future. 

The day had begun in the Bundestag as lawmakers voted 395-303 to approve Scholz  as the country’s new leader, while Mrs Merkel watched from the spectator’s gallery because she is no longer an MP. 

Scholz (left), Merkel's former finance minister, gives her a fist bump outside the chancellery in Berlin as he takes over - telling her that she has 'achieved many things'

Scholz (left), Merkel’s former finance minister, gives her a fist bump outside the chancellery in Berlin as he takes over – telling her that she has ‘achieved many things’

Merkel is presented with a bunch of flowers by Scholz during a handover ceremony at the chancellery building, during which she told him 'take ownership of this house and work with it for the good of our country'

Merkel is presented with a bunch of flowers by Scholz during a handover ceremony at the chancellery building, during which she told him ‘take ownership of this house and work with it for the good of our country’

Angela Merkel was given a standing ovation in the Bundestag today as she watched from the spectator's gallery while lawmakers elected her successor as German Chancellor

Angela Merkel was given a standing ovation in the Bundestag today as she watched from the spectator’s gallery while lawmakers elected her successor as German Chancellor

Mrs Merkel ran Germany for 16 years as leader of the conservative CDU, but stepped down earlier this year after announcing she would retire from politics. She watched from the gallery because she is no longer a member of parliament

Mrs Merkel ran Germany for 16 years as leader of the conservative CDU, but stepped down earlier this year after announcing she would retire from politics.She watched from the gallery because she is no longer a member of parliament

Merkel gave a short speech before the handover ceremony today, wishing her successor well while thanking all of her staff - from senior officials 'to those who work in the kitchen'

Merkel gave a short speech before the handover ceremony today, wishing her successor well while thanking all of her staff – from senior officials ‘to those who work in the kitchen’

Angela Merkel waves goodbye as she leaves the chancellery in Berlin for the last time after 16 years as German leader

Angela Merkel waves goodbye as she leaves the chancellery in Berlin for the last time after 16 years as German leader

Mrs Merkel climbed into a waiting Audi and was driven away from the building, heralding the start of Scholz's term in office

Mrs Merkel climbed into a waiting Audi and was driven away from the building, heralding the start of Scholz’s term in office

<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news halfRHS" data-version="2" id="mol-1bd222b0-5835-11ec-821c-d9aea67c537f" website Maggie moment: Merkel looks teary-eyed as she waves goodbye

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