(Dec. 9, 2015) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is TIME’s Person of the Year.
The announcement was made Wednesday morning on TODAY. Merkel, 61, opened Germany’s borders to refugees and helped guide Europe through a debt crisis. TIME honored Merkel “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.”
Merkel is the first individual woman to receive the title of “Person of the Year” since TIME switched the honor from “Man of the Year” in 1999. Other women have been recognized for the award, but they’ve been part of groups.
From TIME’s article:
The year 2015 marked the start of Merkel’s 10th year as Chancellor of a united Germany and the de facto leader of the European Union, the most prosperous joint venture on the planet. By year’s end, she had steered the enterprise through not one but two existential crises, either of which could have meant the end of the union that has kept peace on the continent for seven decades. The first was thrust upon her—the slow-rolling crisis over the euro, the currency shared by 19 nations, all of which were endangered by the default of a single member, Greece. Its resolution came at the signature plodding pace that so tries the patience of Germans that they have made it a verb: Merkeling.
The second was a thunderclap. In late summer, Merkel’s government threw open Germany’s doors to a pressing throng of refugees and migrants; a total of 1 million asylum seekers are expected in the country by the end of December. It was an audacious act that, in a single motion, threatened both to redeem Europe and endanger it, testing the resilience of an alliance formed to avoid repeating the kind of violence tearing asunder the Middle East by working together. That arrangement had worked well enough that it raised an existential question of its own, now being asked by the richest country in Europe: What does it mean to live well?
Other candidates for this year included ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, “Black Lives Matter” activists, and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.