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Friday 22 August 2014

Cowen named in Top 10 world leaders by US news magazine

Jason O'Brien

Published 19/08/2010 | 05:00

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IT seems unlikely given his record-breaking unpopularity at home, but Taoiseach Brian Cowen has been listed as one of the top 10 leaders in the world by a leading news magazine.

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Dubbed 'The Fiscal Taskmaster', Mr Cowen is heavily praised in a special edition of ' Newsweek' for his handling of the recession, with the author maintaining Mr Cowen has won "serious respect" internationally.

Elsewhere, the magazine ranks Ireland as the 17th best country in the world to live in, with Finland taking the top spot.

However, it is the prominent positioning of Mr Cowen on the world stage that has raised eyebrows and provided a boost to the man himself, and Fianna Fail in general, ahead of a widely-anticipated annihilation at the next General Election.

Author Katie Baker describes the various ailments afflicting the Irish economy, which have put it "not far behind Greece on the list of Europe's big-time losers", and reports that Mr Cowen and "his able Finance Minister Brian Lenihan are prescribing harsh medicine".

This medicine -- in the form of austerity packages, raised taxes and 10pc public salary cuts, in some cases -- has been "drastic enough to win the admiration of the international community", the author reports.

Mr Cowen is placed alongside Chinese premier Wen Jiabao -- whose economy has recently become the second biggest on the planet -- and Liberia's president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's only female head of state who has boosted school enrolment by 40pc in the past five years.

However, 'Newsweek' acknowledges that Mr Cowen's measures have won greater respect abroad than at home, and warned he can expect "a drubbing" in the General Election.

No Taoiseach in the history of the State has seen his satisfaction rating as low as the 18pc currently held by Mr Cowen.

Hope

"Still, there's some hope that his Government's unpopular measures will be rewarded in the long run: surveys suggest that Irish consumer confidence is on the rise again, and the economy notched up modest growth in the first quarter of 2010," Ms Baker concludes.

In 2004 -- when Mr Cowen started his tenure as Finance Minister -- Ireland was named the best place to live in the world, according to a "quality of life" assessment by ' The Economist' magazine.

The first-ever Best Country index from 'Newsweek' yesterday placed Ireland at 17, behind 10 other countries in Europe alone. The criteria focused on education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness and political environment. Ireland made the top 10 only in education (where it ranked ninth). Unsurprisingly, the country's worst ranking (27th) came in the economic arena, and particularly in economic dynamism.

Irish Independent

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