Time magazine has named Angela Merkel as its person of the year, making her the first woman to receive the accolade in the past 29 years. The German leader has outpaced IS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
The magazine praised the EU’s longest-serving leader for her handling of the EU in times of crisis, such as the Greece debt, the massive influx of refugees, and the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“Not once or twice but three times this year there has been reason to wonder whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft,” Nancy Gibbs, Time’s managing editor, wrote in an article devoted to the winner.
“Merkel brandished a different set of values – humanity, generosity, tolerance – to demonstrate how Germany’s great strength could be used to save, rather than destroy,” she added.
However, many would disagree with Time’s appraisal. Among them would be the Greeks suffering from crippling austerity policies and the Europeans frustrated with the massive wave of refugees so warmly welcomed by the German Chancellor.
“If it is moral leadership, why did not she ask the German people if they really want to accept one million migrants into this country?” Hugh Bronson, vice-chair of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party told RT. “She separated the country into those who support her on this issue and those who don’t. And this gap is widening because those people who don’t agree on this kind of policy are not being heard,” he said.
Bronson doubts the Germans really see Angela Merkel as the person of the year. “I say, Merkel is not person of the year, she is ‘unperson’ of the year.”
Controversially enough, Time’s second choice is the leader of the IS terror group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whom the magazine describes as “the brooding muezzin of death.”
“They [jihadists] rallied to his call: the violent and the suicidal, the lawless and the fanatical, gathering in cyberspace from around the world to pledge allegiance to his self-proclaimed caliphate.”
It’s not the first time that the magazine could have picked an extremely controversial figure – in 1938 Adolf Hitler was named the Man of the Year.
US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump came third having beaten such powerful opponents as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“Everything about Trump is a challenge, a test. In times of trial and desperation, when institutions fail, insecurity mounts and need arises, even the most enlightened democratic states can turn inward and break against themselves,” Time said about Trump, referring to his populist rhetoric and defiant behavior.
Russian President Putin made his way to the list of the eight final contenders, but did not make he final short list. He was named the Person of the Year back in 2007 during his second presidential term.
Time magazine has been naming persons of the year (man of the year until 1999) since 1927 when Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot to fly a plane solo non-stop across the Atlantic, was awarded the title. Merkel is only the fourth “woman of the year” after Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, Queen Elizabeth II and Philippian President Corazon Aquino.