The world’s most powerful woman is the backbone of the 27-member European Union and carries the fate of the Euro on her shoulders. Merkel’s hard-line austerity prescription for easing the European debt crisis has been challenged by both hard-hit southern countries and the more affluent north, but it—and she—are still standing. Merkel has served as chancellor since 2005, but one of her biggest challenges still lies ahead: bolstering her government’s sagging popularity before the 2013 German general election.
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