>> The strongest leader in Europe and the longest serving female head of state in European history, Angela Merkel has loomed large on the world political stage for over a decade. Her brightly-colored blazers in a sea of dark suits are hard to miss at international summits. At home she's affectionately named Mutti, German for mummy.
As Germany's chancellor coasts towards election success, Reuters Andrea Shalal in Berlin says she still remains an enigma.>> Even though she's been in power for 12 years, we know very little about her. She's extremely private, she grew up as the daughter of a pastor in East Germany, she lives very simply in a small apartment in Berlin.
But we're starting to see little bits and pieces come out during the campaign, because she's just been giving so many campaign speeches.>> Rare insights into her personal life reveal someone with a love for baking and a fear of dogs. She recently admitted to what she called a youthful sin, smoking a cigarette and hiding it from her parents.
A secret that some critics may see as characteristically leaden and un-fun. Merkel's early life in East Germany was humble and against the backdrop of an oppressive Stasi regime.>>
> She started her political career just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Merkel says she'll never forget the evening it fell.
She'd been at the sauna, crossed to the other side, and celebrated there with total strangers. And she's still no stranger to bridging divides. Many say what drives Merkel is a pragmatism about how to maintain difficult relationships and get politics done. Her career has largely been shaped by caution and avoidance of anything resembling drama.
The verb Merkeln was named Germany's youth word of the year in 2015, meaning being unable to make decisions. But in that same year, she made one galvanizing and defining decision, throwing open Germany's doors.>> Her decision in 2015 to let in ultimately over 1 million refugees completely changed the landscape, but also changed the way that history will view her.
Until then, she had been very predictable and not very interesting,>> Her open door policy was largely unpopular in her own CDU party and fueled support for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, who are now set to get into Parliament for the first time. It was a hard knock to her popularity.
And barely six months ago, many doubted she'd even run in the election. Now, few question that she'll win it. And Merkel's already looking ahead to her next term, too, saying in addition to being chancellor, she'd love to carve out the time to have her own talk show.