While the U.S. presidency is generally regarded as the most powerful position in the world, apparently not everybody agrees. Russian President Vladimir Putin topped the list of the world’s most powerful people that was compiled by Forbes and released Wednesday. U.S. President Barack Obama ranked No. 3 on the list, with his influence in his final year in power described as “shrinking.”
“Putin continues to prove he’s one of the few men in the world powerful enough to do what he wants -- and get away with it,” Forbes wrote, citing the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was ranked No. 2 and was one of only nine women on the list of 73 leaders. Merkel jumped up the rating from No. 5 last year due to her “decisive actions dealing with the Syrian refugee problem and the Greek credit crisis.” Her actions on the European refugee crisis have caused her domestic ratings to drop.
Putin has topped the list for three years now with Forbes citing the Russian leader’s high domestic approval rating despite Russia’s economic woes with sanctions imposed by western states and the global drop in oil prices to below $50 a barrel hurting the country’s economy. With the Kremlin launching airstrikes in Syria starting Sept. 30, Putin has gain managed to reassert Russia’s influence abroad.
While the ranking named the U.S. as the world’s greatest military and economic power, Obama was described as facing a “bigger struggle than ever to get things done.” Pope Francis came in fourth, with China’s President Xi Jinping rounding out the top five.
Business leaders and entrepreneurs also made the list, with Microsoft founder Bill Gates ranking sixth, Google’s Larry Page 10th and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett 13th.
Besides Merkel, other women on the list included Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, at 37 and 43 respectively, along with the International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde at No. 23.
Forbes describes its ranking as “subjective” and not “definitive.” The candidates were measured based on four criteria: power over people, financial resources controlled, a person’s power in multiple spheres and the active use of power.