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Merkel Declared Most Powerful Woman in The World (Plus See the Entire Top Ten Slideshow)

Angela Merkel has been declared the “most powerful woman in the world” by Forbes magazine's "Most Powerful Women of 2011" edition.

The German chancellor won against many highly-qualified candidates because of her widely accepted role as the “undisputed” leader of the EU, that is, she is the politician many consider to be Europe's last great hope.

Germany has had the good fortune of being the eurozone’s largest creditor, and many believe that they hold the key to resolving the euro zone’s sovereign-debt crisis. Furthermore, by virtue of the fact that they are the continent’s chief economic heavyweight, they are the main determinant of the European Union’s direction.

Right now, the eurozone crisis is precariously balanced. Europe may be embarking on a path that could tilt the union away from economic liberalism, risking a split and, ultimately, even a British exit, reports The Economist. In lieu of what may be an impending disaster, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote an op-ed begging Merkel to reconsider eurobonds and to save the EU. His sentiments have been repeated verbatim (and on numerous occasions) by the currency market speculator George Soros.

In the past, Merkel has displayed exemplary behavior and has demonstrated an imperturbability of character while dealing with the EU. She has resisted the idea of regular euro-zone summits to ensure that the British, Poles and Swedes had seats at the table. She has also resisted, in various forms, the suggestion that the PIIGs (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece) should be collectively rescued.

However, recent events have forced emergency meetings of the EU in which 10 countries have been excluded. Despite violating one of her standing rules, she has attended these meetings.  Perhaps because they could be of benefit to Mrs. Merkel. She could use them as an opportunity to soothe her voters’ current anxieties about the euro, although the future price could be large, according to Business Insider.

The European Union has long suffered from an internal struggle between two differing factions: economic liberalism that favors openness to the world and economic nationalism that "prefers a fortress." Mrs. Merkel has commonly considered the latter a desideratum and has, in degrees, opposed the former.

If the euro zone moves towards right-leaning fiscal and economic-policies, it may make the entire organization less welcoming to liberals—and less appealing even to those in Britain (including Prime Minister Cameron) who have an invested interest in staying with the EU. So the question for Mrs. Merkel is this: where will you take the EU?

And it is precisely because she is the one being asked these questions that she has been dubbed the “most powerful woman in the world.

For those still interested, among the names that follow Merkel's on the Forbes list are Hilary Clinton, Dilma Rousseff (President of Brazil), and Michelle Obama.

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