Why Time chose Angela Merkel as Person of the Year

Despite a number of candidates from across the globe, the weekly US news magazine decided on a world leader who found herself in the middle of many stories this year.

Time Magazine via AP
In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time's Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis.

For her leadership on issues ranging from the Greek debt crisis to Syrian refugees, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named Time's Person of the Year, the magazine announced Wednesday morning.

"Leaders are tested only when people don't want to follow," Time editor Nancy Gibbs said in a statement.

Ms. Merkel, whom the magazine called "Chancellor of the free world," topped a list of candidates that included Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who it said "exports extreme violence and twisted religion around the globe;" Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his "toughness" and "transgression;" Black Lives Matter activists; Iranian president Hassan Rouhani; Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick; and former Olympian and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won the people's choice award.

Time awards its Person of the Year title to an individual or group who has had the most impact, positive or not, on the world and the news over the past year.

The magazine praised Merkel, who became Germany's chancellor in 2005, for her leadership in times of crisis.

"Merkel had already emerged as the indispensable player in managing Europe’s serial debt crises; she also led the West’s response to Vladimir Putin’s creeping theft of Ukraine. But now the prospect of Greek bankruptcy threatened the very existence of the euro zone," Ms. Gibbs wrote in an essay about Merkel. "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."

"Each time Merkel stepped in. Germany would bail Greece out, on her strict terms. It would welcome refugees as casualties of radical Islamist savagery, not carriers of it. And it would deploy troops abroad in the fight against ISIS ...You can agree with her or not, but she is not taking the easy road."

It continued, "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."

When told about the news, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said, "I'm sure the chancellor will regard this as an encouragement for her political work, for a good future for Germany as well as for Europe."

Mr. Trump offered a different response on Twitter. "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."

Merkel has done much to transform the image of Germany, long haunted by its toxic past. Responding to criticisms in September that Germany was allowing in too many refugees, Merkel responded ""If we now have to start apologizing for showing a friendly face in response to emergency situations, then that's not my country,"

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