While angry protesters marching the streets of Athens, Lisbon and Madrid brandish posters of Merkel dressed in Nazi garb, the 58-year-old enjoys a level of domestic popularity unseen by any post-war leader before her.
The crisis-ravaged nations of the eurozone blame Merkel for imposing budgetary discipline they say is choking off desperately needed growth, yet few deny that she holds the key to any long-term solution.
And in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, Merkel rose through the ranks of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) despite being a ‘misfit’ in a party of mainly Roman Catholic family men from the wealthy southwest.
Merkel, a twice-married childless Protestant raised in communist East Germany, has become the unchallenged conservative leader of her generation and looks set to handily win a third term at next year’s election.
CONTINUED at the Khaleej Times.