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22/09/2013 04:47 BST | Updated 23/09/2013 04:16 BST

Angela Merkel And Margaret Thatcher - As German Elections Take Place, How Do They Compare?

Merkel V Thatcher
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Merkel V Thatcher

Germans go to the polls today, with Angela Merkel looking for a third term as Chancellor of Europe's superpower.

The odds seem to be in her favour, with pundits making her Christian Democrat party favourite to take the biggest share of the vote, making Merkel likely to retain the top job as part of a coalition.

This result would also put her on course to become Europe's longest-serving female political leader - eclipsing a certain Margaret Thatcher.

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In an era where Britain's political leaders are accused of having male-heavy front-benches (and the Australian cabinet has a single woman in it) the achievements of these two political giants are head and shoulders above the rest.

So how do they compare? We asked three people who should know:

David Campbell Bannerman, Conservative MEP

"Merkel is a consensus politician, which is quite a variation from Maggie's conviction politics.

"[Merkel] is maybe not making the sorts of tough decisions that Maggie had to make. Maggie faced much tougher challenges in many ways.

angela merkel

Merkel is 'more of a consensus politician'

"They are quite different women, both very commanding and impressive Europeans."

Dr Joanna McKay , German politics expert, Nottingham Trent University:

"Both have scientific backgrounds, but although Merkel is from a Conservative party, she is not very Conservative in her politics.

"Obviously, comparisons are bound to be made. It's inevitable until more high-profile female politicians come along.

thatcher

Who is Europe's top woman?

"But Merkel is known as a maternal figure, which people didn't say about Thatcher, which is a bit ironic because Thatcher had children of her own and Merkel doesn't.

"The other difference is that Merkel is very popular at home, whereas Thatcher divided the British public.

"In a way... Merkel perhaps is not quite as decisive as Thatcher. She thinks long and hard about things, and doesn't make snap decisions.

"The similarity is that all world leaders want to be their friend."

Sajjad Karim, Conservative MEP

"Merkel is a very impressive woman. The thing with Angela, and I have met her many, many times, is that it's substance, not show.

"All too often with political leadership these days, the balance is the other way around.

"There was steely determination on both sides.

"Both women propelled their nations forward. The one distinction, with Margaret Thatcher and her vision, a lot of the time I am sure she felt quite alone and felt she had to go and muster support.

"For Merkel, the challenge was slightly different in that she had the goodwill behind her.

"You're not going to be able to draw me to pick one or the other on this one."