What makes Merkel face conflict as “a mathematical challenge” and demonstrate an ability to channel the “non-reply” for political survival. A profile of one of Europe’s most important political leaders:
Her critics dismiss Ms. Merkel as overly pragmatic rather than visionary, ever mindful of her need to keep German voters on her side as she enters an election year. But if she seems opaque even to her allies, hints of her approach to Europe’s economic crisis are sprinkled in a life that includes firsthand experience of how a failure of vision can undo a nation. They are also seen in her embrace of the values of thrift instilled in her small-town upbringing with her father, a Lutheran pastor, and her training as a physicist.
With a scientist’s mind, Ms. Merkel is keenly conscious that Europe is aging and will not stay competitive — and thus credible — unless it overcomes its financial and monetary disorder. In her evolving view, the solution is what she calls “more Europe” — a catchphrase that masks a deep lack of agreement among the Continent’s bickering nations on what their common future could be.