As the first woman leader of a major continental European power, Angela Merkel has used her extraordinary talents to maintain the delicate balance of Germany's grand coalition. These talents were put to use in jump-starting Europe's economy, which was in a slump when she took power in 2005. Alongside French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who shares her taste for decisive political action, commitment and hard work, Merkel, 56, worked tirelessly to steer Europe through the financial crisis. Her personal style combined with Germany's search for consensus has earned her country great influence around the world. It's a topic her natural reticence doesn't allow her to expand on, but that's the Merkel method for you: a spirit of compromise in the service of a genuine ambition and fed by a desire for openness. Under her, Germany has once again become a nation to emulate.
Lagarde is France's Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry
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