Angela Merkel has just embarked on a third term as Chancellor of Germany - the most robust economy in the developed world and the country with the most traumatic political history on the planet. She's the de facto leader of the EU, which had a collective GDP of nearly 16 trillion US dollars in 2012, slightly larger than that of the USA itself. She is the final arbiter of the fates of Greece, Portugal and Spain. The fragile debt position of Ireland, Slovenia and Cyprus means that the most consequential decisions about their future may well be made by her. No democratic leader in Europe has ever had such power.
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