Europe goes wherever German Chancellor Angela Merkel decides to take it. With Greece voting in a crucial election, and banks on Europe's periphery undergoing a slow run (despite the recent bailout of Spanish banks), just about everyone seems to believe the crisis is truly at hand. And that puts the heat on Merkel, who has adhered to the views of her Christian Democratic constituents by resisting German bailouts of either European sovereigns or banks, participating in mutualized Eurobond offerings or any policy tempting inflation. In fact, the chancellor, a chemist (like Margaret Thatcher) who entered politics after the collapse of communism in 1989, finds herself in an increasingly precarious position: either allowing Europe to come apart -- and threatening Germany's own prosperity -- or breaking decisively with domestic public opinion. Can she thread that needle? Schemes have been bandied about, particularly for a euro-zone banking regulator and deposit-insurance plan, but the hurdles, both technical and political, are formidable and time grows short. That makes Merkel just about the most important politician in the world right now.