Time magazine has named German chancellor Angela Merkel its Person of the Year, citing her resolve in leading Europe through this summer’s Greek debt crisis, and her encouragement of other countries to open their borders to migrants and refugees, reported theguardian.


Merkel is only the fourth woman to ever be named Person of the Year, after Time opened up the contest to women in 1936. She is the first woman to be awarded the title by herself since 1986. A group of women – Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom, Coleen Rowley of the FBI and Sherron Watkins from Enron – represented whistleblowers, crowned Persons of the Year in 2001.

In an exclusive interview to TODAY, TIME Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs told Savannah Guthrie, “In a year where world leaders were tested all through the year, no one was tested the way she was, over and over again”.

“The threat to European peace and security really fell to her.”

“She has stepped up in a way that was uncharacteristic even for her,” Gibbs said. “She’s been a very long-serving leader, the longest-serving in the west. She controls the world’s fourth largest economy, but this year she really was tested in how she would respond to some of the most difficult challenges that any leader is facing in the world.”

Gibbs said the magazine selected 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.” “By viewing the refugees as victims to be rescued rather than invaders to be repelled, the woman raised behind the Iron Curtain gambled on freedom. The pastor’s daughter wielded mercy like a weapon,” Gibbs wrote. “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.” 

Merkel, who became Germany’s chancellor in 2005, taking over the world’s fourth largest economy, beat out several other heavyweights on the short list for the title.

Among them, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic terrorist group known as ISIS; Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump; “Black Lives Matter” activists; and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.