What will Angela Merkel do when she retires – and how much will she earn?

Angela Merkel has to stay on as chancellor until a new German government forms. But when that's over she'll be able to relax, and won't have to worry about money.

Chancellor Angela Merkel waves from a boat on the Chiemsee during a trip to visit Bavarian premier Markus Söder in July 2020.
Chancellor Angela Merkel waves from a boat on the Chiemsee during a trip to visit Bavarian premier Markus Söder in July 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa/Pool | Peter Kneffel

In the (rather slow) race to form a new German government, exploratory coalition talks have been taking place between the Social Democrats, the party that won the election, the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

Discussions are also happening between Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc (CDU/CSU) and the Greens and FDP. But at this point in time we don’t know who will become the next German chancellor and which parties will form the government. 

You might have thought that after the election, Merkel – who’s spent 16 years as the German leader – would be able to put her feet up. 

But no. Merkel has to stick around as chancellor of the caretaker government. When that’s over – in the coming weeks or months – she’ll probably relax at her holiday home in Brandenburg, the neighbouring state of Berlin, or take a few holidays with her partner, Joachim Sauer. 

READ ALSO: When exactly will Merkel leave office?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer enjoy a walk in Sant'Angelo on the Ischia island, near Naples, Italy, in April 2015.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer enjoy a walk in Sant’Angelo on the Ischia island, near Naples, Italy, in April 2015. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Ciro De Luca

How much is her pension?

One thing she won’t have to worry about is money. According to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association, Merkel will receive a pension of around €15,000 per month after leaving office.

These pension entitlements result from her many years of membership in the Bundestag as well as her time as a federal minister and chancellor, the association said recently.

Merkel will receive just under half of her current salary. Currently, the chancellor earns just over €35,000 a month.

Like all former chancellors and former federal presidents, Merkel will also be entitled to an office. She will also get an office manager, two assistants, a secretary and a driver.

What will Merkel do after she retires?

So far Merkel has announced no firm plans for her time after office. On a recent visit to the US where she accepted an honorary doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University, Merkel said she plans to rest and consider “what actually interests me”.

Reading books is high on her agenda, as is napping. Merkel added that she will not miss the need to make constant decisions.

READ ALSO: An era ends: How will Germany and the world remember the Merkel years?

But the trained scientist may have long-term plans in sight. 

In 2019, the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management awarded the chancellor a honorary doctorate (she has 18 honorary titles in total). In her acceptance speech, Merkel spoke about her future plans after the chancellorship.

“In any case, all the universities that have given me an honorary degree will be hearing more from me when I’m no longer chancellor,” she said in the Leipzig Opera House after the graduation ceremony. “I will return and will not be staying a short time like today, but will be staying longer.”

So perhaps we’ll see Merkel get involved with a university in an advisory or part-time teaching role. 

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Germany’s ‘traffic light’ parties sign coalition agreement in Berlin

Two and a half months after the federal elections on September 26th, the three parties of the incoming 'traffic light' coalition - the SPD, Greens and FDP - have formally signed their coalition agreement at a public ceremony in Berlin.

Traffic light coalition
Germany's next Chancellor Olaf Scholz (front, left) on stage in Berlin with other members of the new coalition government, and their signed agreement. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

The move marks the final stage of a 10-week week process that saw the three unlikely bedfellows forming a first-of-its-kind partnership in German federal government. 

The SPD’s Olaf Scholz is now due to be elected Chancellor of Germany on Wednesday and his newly finalised cabinet will be sworn in on the same day. This will mark the end of the 16-year Angela Merkel era following the veteran leader’s decision to retire from politics this year. 

Speaking at the ceremony in Berlin on Tuesday morning, Scholz declared it “a morning when we set out for a new government.”

He praised the speed at which the three parties had concluded their talks and said the fight against the Covid crisis would first require the full strength of the new coalition.

Green Party co-leader Robert Habeck, who is set to head up a newly formed environment and energy ministry, said the goal was “a government for the people of Germany”.

He stressed that the new government would face the joint challenge of bringing climate neutrality and prosperity together in Europe’s largest industrial nation and the world’s fourth largest economy.

Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock spoke of a coalition agreement “on the level of reality, on the level of social reality”.

FDP leader Christian Lindner, who managed to secure the coveted role of Finance Minister in the talks, declared that now was the “time for action”.

“We are not under any illusions,” he told people gathered at the ceremony. “These are great challenges we face.”

Scholz, Habeck and Lindner are scheduled to hold  a press conference before midday to answer questions on the goals of the new government.

‘New beginnings’

Together with the Greens and the FDP, Scholz’s SPD managed in a far shorter time than expected to forge a coalition that aspires to make Germany greener and fairer.

The Greens became the last of the three parties to agree on the contents of the 177-page coalition agreement an in internal vote on Monday, following approval from the SPD and FDP’s inner ranks over the weekend.

“I want the 20s to be a time of new beginnings,” Scholz told Die Zeit weekly, declaring an ambition to push forward “the biggest industrial modernisation which will be capable of stopping climate change caused by mankind”.

Putting equality rhetoric into practice, he unveiled the country’s first gender-balanced cabinet on Monday, with women in key security portfolios.

“That corresponds to the society we live in – half of the power belongs to women,” said Scholz, who describes himself as a “feminist”.

READ ALSO: Scholz names Germany’s first gender-equal cabinet

The centre-left’s return to power in Europe’s biggest economy could shift the balance on a continent still reeling from Brexit and with the other major player, France, heading into presidential elections in 2022.

But even before it took office, Scholz’s “traffic-light” coalition – named after the three parties’ colours – was already given a baptism of fire in the form of a fierce fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Balancing act
Dubbed “the discreet” by left-leaning daily TAZ, Scholz, 63, is often described as austere or robotic.
But he also has a reputation for being a meticulous workhorse.
An experienced hand in government, Scholz was labour minister in Merkel’s first coalition from 2007 to 2009 before taking over as vice chancellor and finance minister in 2015.
Yet his three-party-alliance is the first such mix at the federal level, as the FDP is not a natural partner for the SPD or the Greens.

Keeping the trio together will require a delicate balancing act taking into account the FDP’s business-friendly leanings, the SPD’s social equality instincts and the Greens’ demands for sustainability.

Under their coalition deal, the parties have agreed to secure Germany’s path to carbon neutrality, including through huge investments in sustainable energy.

They also aim to return to a constitutional no-new-debt rule – suspended during the pandemic – by 2023.

FDP cabinets
Volker Wissing (l-r), FDP General Secretary und designated Transport Minister, walks alongside Christian Lindner, FDP leader and designated Finance Minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP), the incoming Education Minister, and Marco Buschmann, the incoming Justice Minister. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler


Incoming foreign minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens has vowed to put human rights at the centre of German diplomacy.

She has signalled a more assertive stance towards authoritarian regimes like China and Russia after the commerce-driven pragmatism of Merkel’s 16 years in power.

Critics have accused Merkel of putting Germany’s export-dependent economy first in international dealings.

Nevertheless she is still so popular at home that she would probably have won a fifth term had she sought one.

The veteran politician is also widely admired abroad for her steady hand guiding Germany through a myriad of crises.