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Taking a closer look at Angela Merkel – “Chancellor of the Free World”

Written by Amelie Theussen, Ph.D. Candidate at Center for War Studies

Time Magazine made her their person of the year: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and the most powerful woman in the world. With the title comes a cover story, which is definitely worth reading.

In their cover story for Time, Karl Vick and Simon Shuster manage to paint a precise and well-written portrait of Angela Merkel; weaving together her biography, style of government, and personality, to explain the motivations and rise of Germany’s Mutti.

(Time Magazine, Cover, December 2015)

Having been Germany’s chancellor for 10 years, Merkel has steered the European Union and Germany through two existential crises by the end of 2015. First came the Euro-crisis, which was and is being handled in typical Merkel manner – her “signature plodding pace that so tries the patience of Germans that they have made it a verb: Merkeling”. Then came the refugee crisis and, in an unexpected and some say untypical move, Merkel opened Germany’s doors to the stream of refugees and asylum seekers. Growing up behind the walls of East Germany, maybe Merkel’s move to welcome the refugees and refrain from adding walls was actually “inevitable, given how Angela Merkel feels about walls”.

Usually known for steering Germany like a captain does a ship, from the back, where one has the overview, her move in the refugee crisis put Merkel in “an unfamiliar place – out front”. And it has cost her at least some popularity – opinion polls show worries about Muslim immigrants and the CDU’s Bavarian sister-party CSU shows clear opposition, even resistance, to Merkel’s course of action. While it is unclear whether Merkel will seek a fourth term of office at the next elections in 2017, Vick and Shuster note that she

“has more than a year to restore the equilibrium to which Germans had grown accustomed. All she has to do is end the refugee crisis, persuade the rest of the E.U. to take a few hundred thousand Muslims amid galloping fears of terrorism, end the war in Syria and parry any unforeseen setbacks, like a scandal at Volkswagen, flagship of the nation’s largest industrial sector. Along the way she has to convince Germans that what many call the ultimate rash move is, in fact, visionary.”
And the Time’s cover story gives you the feeling that if anyone can achieve just this, it will be Angela Merkel.

If you want to know more about Merkel’s legacy and why fear has never been a good advisor, read the Time Magazine’s portrait of Angela Merkel here; and find out why Merkel was chosen as the Time’s Person of the Year 2015 here.