Better than halfway through her first term as Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel is more popular than ever, Der Spiegel reports, with an impressive 76% approval rating. Her hardworking image has gotten boosts from solid diplomacy and good domestic luck, with reforms put in place by the previous government now paying dividends and keeping political rivals at bay.
"People admire how she stands her ground in the world of Bush, Putin and Sarkozy," one researcher said of Merkel, dubbed "Miss World" by tabloids after successfully hosting the G-8 summit in June. With the main opposition party stumbling and rivals in her own weakening, Merkel looks able to coast into the 2009 election. (Read more Angela Merkel stories.)