Angela Merkel health fears as ex-chancellor driven to emergency room with husband

Angela Merkel caught on camera shaking in 2019

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The former chancellor, who left office last December after 16 years in power, was spotted with husband Joachim Sauer on Wednesday as they were driven to the capital’s Charité hospital, crossed the Emergency Room door and left an hour later.

The reason for the hospital visit was not disclosed.

The outing marked the first time in 166 days the couple were publicly seen together, and it was only Ms Merkel’s second public appearance since handing over the reins of the German government to her successor, Olaf Scholz, late last year.

The trip to the Charité, which is one of Europe’s largest university hospitals, resumed speculation about the ex-chancellors health.

In 2019, she was seen visibly trembling at three different public events.

On June 18 of that year, she shook while receiving Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with military honours in Berlin.

She drank three glasses of water, after which she said she felt better.

READ MORE: Merkel red-faced as she watches her 16-year legacy go ‘up in smoke’

A week later, on June 27, Ms Merkel also shook during a ceremony with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, just hours before flying off to a G20 summit in Japan.

Citing sources in government circles, national newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten said at the time Ms Merkel’s trembling had been sparked by the memory of the previous shaking bout, dubbing it a “psychological process”.

Then, on July 10, she experienced a third spell of shaking during military honours for Finland’s then-Prime Minister Antti Rinne.

The episode was said to be less intense than in the previous two instances and stopped when she moved her body.

At a press conference after the event, Ms Merkel told reporters she was doing fine.

She said with a smile: “I am doing well.

“You don’t have to worry about me.”

She admitted she was going through a “processing phase” after her first shaking bout in mid-June, before adding: “This appears not to be quite finished yet, but I am making progress and will have to live with it for a while.”

At the time, her office dismissed concerns about her health, linking the trembling outbreaks to the heat and dehydration.

Ms Merkel, 67, left the Bundestag at the end of last year with a standing ovation and an approval rating of 68 percent.

Little has been seen of her since and not much is known about her life in retirement.

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Angela Merkel: A profile

In February this year, as she took part in the convention that reelected President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, she was singled out for an initial round of applause.

German parliament President Bärbel Bas used the occasion to thank the long-time conservative leader for her years of service to the country.

He said: “Dear Mrs Dr Merkel, I welcome you in the name of all the members of this federal convention.”

Her appearance, after missing a Christian Democratic Union virtual party conference and skipping the meeting of the local constituency that elected her, triggered widespread coverage among local media.

So did her decision to turn down a top United Nations job offer from UN Secretary-General António Guterres in January – a move in line with her the step back she seems to have taken from the political spotlight.

Mr Guterres reportedly offered Ms Merkel the chair of a high-level UN advisory body on global public goods, one of his flagship reform projects.

The role will focus on issues including the ozone layer, vaccines and outer space debris.

Ms Merkel, who according to an interview in Der Spiegel is working on a political memoir with her long-time aide, said she would not take the position.

An official in the ex-chancellor’s office said Ms Merkel “spoke to the UN secretary-general on the phone last week, thanked him and told him that she would not accept the offer”.

No further elaboration on the rejection was provided.

The war in Ukraine has called into question Ms Merkel’s impeccable legacy, as critics question her unwavering support for the Nord Stream project and suggest Germany’s energy reliance on Russia, which rose from 36 percent of its total gas imports in 2014 to 55 percent currently, could have been avoided.

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