Why German Chancellor Angela Merkel Being Named TIME Magazine’s ‘Person Of The Year’ 2015 Matters


She is the head of Europe’s most powerful economy and the world’s fourth biggest economy, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel certainly knows it. She became the first ever female Chancellor in 2005 and today is arguably one of the most powerful leaders in the world. Angela has been a dominant and unrelenting presence in some of the biggest issues in 2015, which is why she was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year.

It should also be noted that she has become only the 4th woman in history to be named TIME’s POY, the last one being Corazon Aquino, the first woman President of the Philippines, in 1986 (the other two are Wallis Simpson and Queen Elizabeth). Yes, a full 29 years between female covers. But as TIME’s Radhika Jones reports on the apparent gender disparity of their annual accolade, many of the type of male leaders who have been regular features on this annual issue aren’t about to be female “any time soon”, including the president of Russia, and the Pope.

However she does promise that it won’t be another 29 years for another woman to hold the title, in fact there could well be a woman in 2016. She is of course alluding to the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the first female US President. While we wait with anticipation for that to happen, let’s focus on Angela for a second.

While it is a fitting title for her, let’s not forget she was up against contenders such as Donald Trump (who of course took to Twitter insulting her when he found out he didn’t win) and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.


As TIME reports, Angela grew up at a time when Germany was divided by the Soviets, and after the wall came down in 1989, she decided to go into politics, and never looked back. She is the current leader of the Christian Democratic Union and has been since 2000. She is the daughter of a Lutheran minister, and came into a predominantly Catholic political party as a divorcee, which is a startling fact in and of itself.

Over the past few years she has faced some major challenges and tackled them head on. TIME has identified 3 major events that made her the clear winner of the POY title. First, her role in handling the European economy crisis, specifically relating to Greece in the summer, where she staunchly stood by her guns in implementing strict austerity measures despite the backlash from many regarding the decision. Some have called this problem the most “pivotal decision of her chancellery“, but in the end she managed to avoid Greek exiting the Euro and preventing what would be a subsequent disastrous recession.

The second event was her ability to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his actions toward Ukraine. She did not mince words when publicly stating Putin needed to back down and not put pressure on countries like Ukraine, as well as neighboring Moldova and Georgia, when deciding whether to enter the EU. She does not appear to be threatened by him in any way and refuses to be influenced by his bullying tactics and aggressive decisions within Europe.


She made regular trips to the Kremlin to try and broker a peace deal with him, while at the same time spurning criticism from the US for favoring diplomacy over arming local rebels against pro-Russian separatists.

The 3rd event, and probably the most prominent to people around the world today, was her decision to take in close to 1 million Syrian refugees in early September, setting a massive precedent for the rest of Europe, and indeed the rest of the world. While countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey started to bulge at the seams with millions of refugees and displaced families leaving the war-torn country, more and more starting pouring into Western Europe and were not necessarily met with much positivity.

What’s interesting is that just a few months earlier, Angela was seen giving the cold shoulder to a Palestinian refugee at a public event where she stated Germany “cannot help everyone” and could not give any comfort to the crying young woman who wanted to know why she was facing deportation. Angela’s response made her quite unpopular, but with her leadership on the Syrian refugee crisis it enabled the world to see what it looks like when a major world leader has a change of heart and (quite possibly) listens to criticism.

Since Germany started accepting refugees, her popularity amongst the German people has dropped as they now fear they cannot cope with the huge influx, and are worried about the rise of Islamic terrorism being carried into the country through the refugees. Yet she has not backed down and assured her country they are capable of doing this.


Her power is formidable, with the Telegraph even going as far as calling her “Magic Merkel” for the way she has dominated politics in Europe.

“When Mrs Merkel came to power, Germany was still widely considered the ‘sick man of Europe’, with unemployment at over 11 per cent. She has presided over a decade of success that has seen Germany weather the Euro crisis and emerge as the economic power house of Europe, with unemployment under 5 per cent today,” wrote Justin Huggler.

He goes on to say that there are no obvious or even close-to-equal challengers to her leadership, which has so far seen other heads of state such as Tony Blair, George W Bush and Silvio Berlusconi come and go from office.

In May she was named as the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine for the 10th year running, and the second most powerful person (male or female). The magazine listed the same reasons TIME magazine did, and also say there is only 1 woman who could knock her off her top spot in 2016 – Hillary Clinton.

“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,” concludes TIME Magazine editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs.

Take a look at a video montage put together by the magazine of why they chose Angela Merkel as the recipient of their most prestigious annual issue.



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