At some point during the the euro crisis, Angela Merkel became everybody’s favorite villain. For debt-swamped southern Europeans, she’s the cold-hearted Northern European politician imposing crushing austerity. Northern nations, meanwhile, urge her to impose even tighter discipline so euro zone wastrels don’t ruin their relatively sound finances. Keynesian leaders in France, Italy, and beyond claim her insistence that Europe slash state spending has driven euro economies deeper into recession. And German voters are increasingly impatient with the fruits of their painful reform efforts—and healthy economy— backstopping euro zone debtors. Still, Merkel heads into 2013 elections favored to retain her leadership post—due largely to signs the euro crisis has stabilized thanks to her much contested positions.
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