Angela Merkel was named Time magazine’s 2015 person of the year. Although she had some stiff competition, including Caitlyn Jenner and Donald Trump, Germany’s Chancellor was determined to be “the most powerful leader in Europe” and “the most powerful woman in the world.”
On Monday, Time announced eight finalists for the distinguished honor. In addition to Jenner, Merkel, and Trump, the finalists included ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and the Black Lives Matter activists.
As reported by Time, Angela Merkel was ultimately chosen as the 2015 Person of the Year “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.”
A native of Hamburg, Germany, Merkel is the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. Before she turned 1-year-old, she and her family moved to the former German Democratic Republic.
A student of physics, Angela completed a doctorate degree at the University of Leipzig in 1978. She was then employed by the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry, Academy of Sciences, where she worked as a chemist for two years.
As reported by Biography, Merkel got her start in politics in 1989 as a member of the Christian Democratic Union. Over the next 15 years, she served as minister for women and youth under Helmut Kohl, secretary-general of the Christian Democratic Union, and party leader for the Christian Democratic Union.
In 2005, Angela Merkel was elected as Germany’s first female chancellor.
Although she made great strides in the last 15 years, Angela’s time in office has not been without controversy. In recent months, she faced stark criticism for her defense of Germany’s asylum and refugee policy.
Despite the fact that “German protesters called her a traitor, a whore; her allies warned of a popular revolt, and her opponents warned of economic collapse and cultural suicide,” Merkel refused to back down.
Amid an unprecedented influx of asylum-seeking Syrian refugees and ever-increasing fears of terrorist attacks, Angela Merkel vowed to work toward a viable solution as opposed to turning the refugees away.
— Julian O’Neill (@julianoneill) December 9, 2015
Although her approval ratings have dropped, Angela has shown unflinching stoicism in the face of the ongoing controversy.
Time’s coveted Person of the Year designation was initially prompted by an error of omission.
In December 1927, the magazine’s editors were reviewing the year’s cover stories. Although he successfully completed the first solo nonstop flight from New York to Paris and was awarded the coveted Orteig Prize, Charles Lindbergh was not honored in any of Time’s 1927 cover stories.
In an attempt to correct the obvious omission, the editors named Lindbergh “Man of the Year” for 1927 and featured his story in a special edition.
Although the first Person of the Year was honored for a positive accomplishment, the designation is not reserved for heroes.
Time’s Deputy Managing Editor Radhika Jones explains that the honor is traditionally bestowed on “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”
Unfortunately, some of history’s most influential figures were also the most controversial. In 1938, the magazine chose Adolf Hitler as their Person of the Year. In later issues, the editors chose equally notorious public figures, including Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942, Nikita Khruschev in 1957, Richard Nixon in 1972, and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.
In addition to people or groups of people, Time’s “Person” of the Year has been awarded to The American Fighting-Man in 1950, The Hungarian Freedom Fighter in 1956, U.S. Scientists in 1960, The Middle Americans in 1969, American Women in 1975, and The Computer in 1982.
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) November 30, 2015
Although she is facing stark criticism for her handling of the refugee crisis, Time magazine chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the 2015 Person of the Year, as she has a proven history of “steadfast moral leadership.”
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]