The woman at the centre of it all, Merkel, is Germany’s first female Chancellor, and, as leader of the strongest member state economy, at the helm of the EU as it navigates the still choppy waters of the Euro Crisis. While saving the euro, she has managed to guide her own country through a period of economic prosperity to a twenty year unemployment low.
She has made the Forbes Most Powerful Women list eight times out of the past ten years, seven of those times – including 2013 – coming in at number 1. She’s currently at number 2, behind Obama, on their World’s Most Powerful People list. Fluent in Russian and English, she has her Doctorate in quantum chemistry, favours austerity, dislikes confrontation and is currently enjoying enormous popularity and solid approval rates.
She isn’t, of course, without her critics, political and otherwise. She’s female, so there’s endless discussion about her appearance. In the televised election debate between her and her rival, Peer Steinbrück, it was Merkel’s necklace (in the colours of the German flag) that stole the show. Just this week The Huffington Post published an article in which Andrew Marr claimed she’s too unattractive to ever be elected in Britain (but that’s okay Britain, because she’s not leading you) and a BBC blog from Matt Frei went for the classic ‘Angela Merkel: more minx than matron’ (why not just combine the two and have a minxy matron running the western world?)