Time Magazine calls her the “de facto leader of Europe,” but you probably know her by a different name: Angela Merkel.
The German Chancellor was named Time’s Person of the Year because of her steady hand in leading the continent through challenges that would determine “whether Europe could continue to exist” as it does today. She got points for her management of the continent’s “serial debt crises” that began in 2008, and also for leading the Western world’s response to Russia’s “creeping theft of Ukraine.”
“But now the prospect of Greek bankruptcy threatened the very existence of the euro zone. The migrant and refugee crisis challenged the principle of open borders. And finally, the carnage in Paris revived the reflex to slam doors, build walls and trust no one,” Time’s editors wrote.
In other words, in a world terrified by ISIS, Merkel convinced her nation to open its doors to one million Syrian refugees. In a culture of staunch austerity, she convinced Germans to bail out the Greeks (albeit on strict terms). And in a job typically filled by a man, she has managed to hold her position for 10 years, where she’s “outsmarted, isolated or just outlasted anyone who might mount a challenge to her.”
If that isn’t impressive enough, Merkel is also only the fourth woman to be named Time’s Person of the Year, the last time a woman graced the cover was in 1986.
Of course, the decision has its critics. But Time has an answer for them.
“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.”
She may not be Canadian, but even we can’t help but feel a little proud.