German Chancellor Angela Merkel named Time’s Person of the Year

December 9, 2015 6:22 pm

  has been named Time’s Person of the Year. Photo / Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named Time’s Person of the
Year, praised by the magazine for her leadership on everything from
Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis.
Time also cited
Merkel’s strong response to “Vladimir Putin’s creeping theft of Ukraine”
and on its cover called her “Chancellor of the Free World.”
once or twice but three times there has been reason to wonder this year
whether could continue to exist, not culturally or
geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft,”
Time editor Nancy Gibbs wrote. “You can agree with her or not, but she
is not taking the easy road. Leaders are tested only when people don’t
want to follow. For asking more of her country than most politicians
would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and
for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short
supply, Angela Merkel is TIME’s Person of the Year.”

An image provided by Time Magazine shows Angela Merkel on the cover. Photo / AP
An image provided by Time Magazine shows Angela Merkel on the cover. Photo / AP

Merkel, 61, is just the fourth woman since 1927 to be chosen
and the first since opposition leader Corazon C. Aquino of the
Philippines in 1986. She is the first German since Willy Brandt, the
West German chancellor named in 1970 for “seeking to bring about a fresh
relationship between East and West” during the Cold War. In 1999, Time
picked the German-born Albert Einstein as Person of the Century.
came in as Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert was leading a
government press conference in the German capital, while Merkel herself
was at an event in Leipzig. When asked about it by The Associated Press,
Seibert said he had only just received word on his phone himself.
sure the chancellor will regard this as an encouragement for her
political work, for a good future for as well as for Europe,”
Seibert said.
The other finalists included Donald Trump, who for
months has topped Republican polls for the 2016 U.S. presidential
election and dominated headlines.
“I told you @TIME Magazine
would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big
favorite,” he tweeted soon after Time’s announcement. “They picked
person who is ruining Germany.”
The other candidates for 2015
were Caitlyn Jenner, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the Black Lives
Matter protest movement, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Uber CEO
Travis Kalanick.

Angela Merkel key career highlights

Route to the top

became Germany’s first female chancellor when she took office in
November 2005, and also the first person who grew up in communist East
Germany to lead the reunited country. After an early career as a
physicist, she entered politics in her mid-30s as communism crumbled.
She quickly became a spokeswoman for East Germany’s first and only
democratically elected leader and, months later, entered then-Chancellor
Helmut Kohl’s first post-reunification Cabinet. Merkel helped negotiate
the Kyoto accord to curb greenhouse gas emissions as environment
minister in the 1990s. She became leader of the conservative Christian
Democratic Union in 2000 and chancellor after narrowly winning a 2005

Diplomatic persistence

has gained a reputation over the years for diplomatic persistence and
helping broker compromises, not least in the unwieldy 28-member European
Union. In the crisis over Ukraine, she has stuck doggedly to efforts to
keep the leaders of Russia and Ukraine talking in the face of repeated
setbacks in implementing a peace accord, while also backing sanctions
against Russia. She is fond of a methodical, step-by-step approach to
resolving problems.

Debt crisis

Merkel has
been a dominant figure in shaping Europe’s response to the debt crisis
that started unfolding in Greece six years ago and flared anew this
year. She has insisted that countries carry out painful economic reforms
and cut spending in exchange for aid, and was instrumental in getting
the International Monetary Fund involved. She has faced criticism abroad
for her hard-nosed emphasis on austerity and insistence that there
can’t be a quick fix, but also has had to fend off critics at home who
opposed bailouts for eurozone strugglers.

Welcoming refugees

year’s influx of migrants to Europe has proven to be perhaps Merkel’s
toughest test yet. Germany has been the top destination for people
fleeing Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in hopes of safety and a
better life. The flow picked up after Merkel decided in early September
to let in people stuck in Hungary. Germany has struggled to house and
process the newcomers – some 965,000 were registered as asylum-seekers
between January and November. Still, Merkel has stuck to her optimistic
insistence that “we will manage it” and refused to name a limit to the
number of people Germany can take in, despite mounting criticism from
conservative allies. She has pushed – to little avail so far – for more
help from other European countries in sharing the burden, and insists
that the crisis can only be solved through patient diplomacy.

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