German chancellor Angela Merkel named Time's 2015 Person of the Year
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German chancellor Angela Merkel named Time's 2015 Person of the Year

Washington: Time magazine has named German Chancellor Angela Merkel its 2015 Person of the Year, noting her resilience and leadership when faced with the refugee crisis and turmoil in the European Union over its currency this year.

She was selected from eight Time finalists that included US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

In a statement explaining the magazine's choice, Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs said despite crises in the region that caused "reason to wonder whether Europe could continue to exist", Merkel, 61, emerged as an "indispensable player".

"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," Gibbs wrote.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "Real feminists would be offended if I described myself as one."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "Real feminists would be offended if I described myself as one."

Photo: AP
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"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," Gibbs said.

"The prospect of Greek bankruptcy threatened the very existence of the euro zone. 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."

In response to the news, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told a government news conference: "I am sure the Chancellor will cherish this as an incentive in her job."

A refugee carries a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as he arrives in Munich in 2015.

A refugee carries a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as he arrives in Munich in 2015.

Photo: AP

Merkel celebrated her 10-year anniversary as Chancellor last month, making her the European Union's longest-serving leader.

For years she was seen as a cautious, risk-averse leader who paid close attention to public opinion in formulating policy. But her leadership in the Ukraine crisis last year, her clinching of a deal this summer to keep Greece in the euro zone and her stance in the refugee crisis have changed that view.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time's Person of the Year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time's Person of the Year.

Photo: AP

In late August, when tens of thousands of migrants fleeing war in the Middle East streamed into Hungary, threatening a humanitarian crisis, Merkel agreed to suspend the European Union's asylum rules and allow them to continue into Germany. She declared to sceptical countrymen: "Wir schaffen das," which translates as, "We can do this."

Her "open-door" stance has led to a fall in support for her conservatives and in her own popularity ratings, which have slid to 54 per cent from 75 per cent over eight months.

Merkel topped a shortlist of finalists that included Trump, who came in third, and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was runner-up.

She is the first individual woman to hold the title since Corazon Aquino in 1986, though women have been honoured as part of a group. Last year, a group of Ebola doctors and survivors won the title.

Trump tweeted that he was not surprised he was not selected, tweeting: "I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favourite. They picked person who is ruining Germany."

Time magazine's process for selecting the person of the year is kept a secret between a small number of editors and the writer working on the feature story, according to the publication's website.

"Very few people on the staff know who the front-runner is, or even the short list. Really only the people for whom it's necessary to know, know - including a small circle of editors and the writer working on the story," said Time's Deputy Managing Editor, Radhika Jones.

"Layout meetings are held in secret. This is my fourth year editing it and I've developed a good poker face."

Reuters, USA Today