Merkel — Time’s Person of the Year 2015

On December 9, the Time announced its decision to name Chancellor Angela Merkel as Time’s Person of the Year for 2015, calling her “Chancellor of the Free World

In reviewing her leadership role, the Time refers to her decision to open Germany’s doors to the Syrian refugees (reported here):

“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?

“Merkel had her answer: “In many regions war and terror prevail. States disintegrate. For many years we have read about this. We have heard about it. We have seen it on TV. But we had not yet sufficiently understood that what happens in Aleppo and Mosul can affect Essen or Stuttgart. We have to face that now.” For her, the refugee decision was a galvanizing moment in a career that was until then defined by caution and avoidance of anything resembling drama. Analysts called it a jarring departure from form. But it may also have been inevitable, given how Angela Merkel feels about walls.

“What was not inevitable but merely astounding was that the most generous, openhearted gesture of recent history blossomed from Germany, the country that within living memory (and beyond, as long as there’s a History Channel) blew apart the European continent, and then the world, by taking to gruesome extremes all the forces its Chancellor strives to hold in check: nationalism, nativism, self-righteousness, reversion to arms. No one in Europe has held office longer—or to greater effect—in a world defined by steadily receding barriers. That, after all, is the story of the E.U. and the story of globalization, both terms as colorless as the corridor of a Brussels office building.”