Angela Merkel will leave office later this year as one of modern Germany's longest-serving leaders and as a global diplomatic heavyweight.
Her legacy has been defined by her management of a succession of crises that shook a fragile Europe rather than any grand visions for her own country.
In 16 years at the helm of Europe's biggest economy, Merkel ended military conscription, set it on course for a future without nuclear and fossil-fueled power, enabled the legalization of same-sex marriage and introduced a national minimum wage, among other things.
But a senior ally recently summed up what many view as her main service, as an anchor of stability in stormy times.
"You protected our country well," he told Merkel.
"All the major crossroads you had to navigate ... we never mapped out in any election program — they came overnight and you had to govern well,” Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said, according to the Associated Press.
The German chancellor, who has been in power since 2005, has promised to leave the country after the outcome of Sept. 26's election has been determined.