Regularly crowned the most powerful woman in the world in international surveys, Merkel is aware that, after her rapid ascent to become not only the first female chancellor, but also the youngest in German history, the euro crisis will be her most critical test. It is that which will determine whether Helmut Kohl's former pupil is worthy of a place in the history books, and whether or not it is adorned with flattering adjectives.
However, the future of the single currency also depends on whetherGermany can maintain its leadership role in Europe. Inevitably, it has provoked distrust in the rest of the continent: in which the chancellor's costly dilly-dallying during the debt crisis, led to remarks abouta third world war in the British press. Even the new stability agreement, which has been subject to rigorous German accounting, incites fears that Europe is strangling its own growth potential.
In France, there's no longer much doubt. It's hard to exaggerate the extent to which much of the nation dislikes its president. "Dislike" is, in fact, far too mild: there's a depth of contempt, a cold ferocity of detestation, that can shock.
It's not the same as what much of Britain felt about Margaret Thatcher at the height of her unpopularity. Here, the beef was with her policies and what they were doing to the UK. In France, it's personal. They hate him.