Angela Merkel

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Forbes has rated her as the ‘World’s Most Powerful Woman’ for two consecutive years and not without a compelling reason. Often described as "the de facto leader of the European Union", German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to do everything in her power to keep the 27-country EU, well, united.

Since the financial crisis began unwinding three years ago, Germany is leading from the front and providing critical support to the European bailout plan. But this means, the world's fourth most powerful person (Forbes ranking) is walking a fine line.

Though her approval rating as the country's leader reached an all-time high of 77% in February this year, Merkel will hope for a miracle to avoid extending aid to countries like Spain and Cyprus.

Merkel’s faces a stiff challenge as the Europe’s largest economy is becoming increasingly tired of being Europe’s financial crutch. Merkel could face ire in the German Parliament for justifying any further assistance to the far weaker parts of the euro bloc.

A surprise Nobel Prize for Peace for the EU has inspired Merkel to serve the Union as a "a personal incentive and a duty” and with the continent’s crisis far from over, all eyes will be on ‘The Iron Lady’ even in the next year.

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