Wednesday 21 August 2019

Putin sees off Merkel and Obama to retain title of 'most powerful person in the world'

Russian President Vladimir Putin was named most powerful person in the world by ‘Forbes’ magazine
Russian President Vladimir Putin was named most powerful person in the world by ‘Forbes’ magazine

Rachael Alexander in New York

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has been named the world's most powerful person for the second year running by 'Forbes' magazine.

Of the 73 listed, 28 are billionaires. Thirty of the individuals are Americans. And only nine are women - the same number as last year.

The 63-year-old has, unsurprisingly, retained his position at the top of the 'Forbes' ranking of the world's most powerful people.

'Forbes' says the decision is made on the amount of money they control; the number of people they impact; their total spheres of influence; and how actively they wield their power. And in all areas Mr Putin has triumphed; he dominates one of the world's largest countries, and his actions in Ukraine and Syria are changing the course of history.

In 'Forbes's list of 73 individuals, ranking second is Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Mrs Merkel is one of only nine women among the 73 people on the 'Forbes' list, and has risen from fifth place last year. Her pre-eminence in Europe, particularly in respect to negotiations with Greece, coupled with her influential handling of the migrant crisis, have seen her rise in the rankings. She has also been named by the magazine as the most powerful woman in the world for the past 10 years.

In third place is President Barack Obama, who steps down following November 2016 elections, and who has become the first ever sitting US leader not to be in the top two. His ouster by Merkel, and his trailing of Putin, reflects partially his policy of avoiding getting America entangled in further foreign wars, and partially his own status as a president coming to the end of his term. Bill Clinton is the only former US president to make the list, at 64th place. Presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are 58th and 72nd, respectively.

In fourth, Pope Francis's position is unmoved, and the past 12 months have seen the 78-year-old continue to travel the world and surprise people. His visit to the US and Cuba in September was greeted by wild crowds, and his comments on climate change, immigration and persecution in the Middle East have seen him set the news agenda.

In fifth spot, China's 62-year-old leader Xi Jinping has been described as the country's most powerful ruler since Mao Tse-Tung.

His assertive positioning in the South China Sea, rare address to the UN General Assembly, and high international profile have kept him in the headlines, as has his visit last month to Britain.

Bill Gates, the world's richest man, is not just sixth on the 'Forbes' list for his $79.9bn fortune.

The Microsoft founder is also recognised for the work of his charitable foundation, which aims to reduce inequality and cure diseases. So far the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent more than $30bn, and made enormous strides in healthcare - particularly in almost totally eradicating polio.

At number seven is US Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen (69), who made history in 2014 when she became the first woman to be in charge of the Federal Reserve. Since then she has played a hugely high-profile and influential role.

British prime minister David Cameron is at number eight. His stock has risen two places over the past year, helped by an unexpected triumph in the May election. Forbes says the 49-year-old has been noted for his fondness for Twitter and for selfies.

India's leader Narendra Modi is at number 9 and has been in the spotlight far more than his predecessor; meeting Xi Jinping and Barack Obama, and travelling to Silicon Valley to woo tech investors to his country.

And at No 10 is Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Page (42) co-founded Google with Sergey Brin in 1998, and has gone on to become one of the richest and most influential people in technology.

Irish Independent

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