Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named Time’s 2015 Person of the Year for her leadership on the Syrian refugee and Greek debt crises. Merkel becomes just the fourth woman to win the honor—outside of a group of winners—since it was first presented in 1927. She is also the first individual woman to win since 1986, and the first individual woman to receive the award since Time changed its title from “Man of the Year” in 1999.
In announcing the magazine’s decision, Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs said, “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.’”
Earlier this year, Merkel helped shape Europe’s response to Greece’s continuing debt crisis, insisting on strict austerity measures before any bailouts went ahead.
With the Syrian conflict forcing millions of refugees away from home, Merkel opened Germany’s doors, committing to accept 800,000 asylum seekers this year. It is expected that the number will approach 1 million by year’s end.
“She has stepped up in a way that was uncharacteristic even for her,” Gibbs continued. “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.”
The title is awarded to the person or people who have had the most impact on the world and on the news—for better or worse—that year. While Time runs a reader poll, the Person of the Year decision is ultimately made by the magazine’s editors.
Merkel beat out seven others on the shortlist for the award, including ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Black Lives Matter activists, television personality and former Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
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