“I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite … They picked person who is ruining Germany,” Republican presidential front-runner tweeted Wednesday morning.
Merkel, 61, also edged out Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Black Lives Matter activists; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner.
“At a moment when much of the world is once more engaged in a furious debate about the balance between safety and freedom, the Chancellor is asking a great deal of the German people, and by their example, the rest of us as well,” Time’s editor Nancy Gibbs wrote about the choice.
“To be welcoming. To be unafraid. To believe that great civilizations build bridges, not walls, and that wars are won both on and off the battlefield. By viewing the refugees as victims to be rescued rather than invaders to be repelled, the woman raised behind the Iron Curtain gambled on freedom.”
Merkel is the first individual woman to be named “Person of the Year” since the magazine changed its title from “Man of the Year” in 1999.
But women have been recognized as part of a group – such as last year’s winner, “Ebola Fighters.”
“Not once or twice but three times there has been reason to wonder this year whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft,” Gibbs wrote. “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 cited Merkel’s role in bailing Greece out of a financial meltdown, welcoming refugees “as casualties of radical Islamist savagery” and sending troops to fight Islamic State.
Time awards the title to a person or group selected who has had the most impact on the world and the news — for better or worse — over the past year.
The other women who appeared solo on the magazine cover with the title “Woman of the Year” were Wallis Simpson, Soong Mei-ling (also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek), Queen Elizabeth II and former Philippines President Corazon Aquino.