Year 2012 In Review: Saviors Of World Economy, Guardians Of Peace And Troublemakers - Leaders Who Matter

By @AmruthaGayathri on
  • Barack Obama

    U.S. President Barack Obama won a historic second term, comfortably beating off the challenge from his Republican rival, Mitt Romney. Announcing the president as the 2012 Time Person of the Year, Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time Magazine, said it was remarkable that Obama won two terms with more than 50 percent of the popular vote as a Democrat. He said Obama earned the honor “For finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union.”

  • Shinzo Abe

    Shinzo Abe is back in power as the prime minister of Japan as the nation faces the challenges of deflation, an aging population and a rising influence of China in the region. His promises to revive the economy include an aggressive monetary policy easing by the Bank of Japan, increased fiscal spending to beat deflation and steps to tame a strong yen to boost Japanese exports. Abe, a security hardliner, is expected to maintain a tough stance in confronting China with regard to an island dispute in the East China Sea and strengthening Tokyo’s relations with Washington.

  • Angela Merkel

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has led the nation since 2005, was overwhelmingly re-elected her party’s leader in December as she kicked off her bid for a third term. One of the greatest challenges of 2012 — saving the euro as a common currency in the European Union — proved to be a testing ground for her negotiating skills, as she faced strong protests from Greeks and other hard-hit southern countries who blamed Germany and the affluent north for forcing painful austerity measures on them.

  • Xi Jinping

    Xi Jinping, the new leader of the Communist Party of China who is destined to lead the world’s most populous country for the next decade, was chosen by the party leadership in November. His rise to power will be complete in March 2013 when he will replace Hu Jintao as president and head of state.

  • Mohamed Morsi

    Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Egypt from Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FPJ), took in June with a promise that he would be a president to all Egyptians, including the minorities. However, the president and his Islamist backers faced strong protests from the liberal, secular opposition after he assumed sweeping powers and called for a public referendum for a controversial draft constitution, which the opposition said did not represent the aspirations of minorities. The constitution has been approved since and Morsi looks forward to holding parliamentary elections in 2013.

  • Aung San Suu Kyi

    After spending almost two decades in one or the other form of detention for her efforts to bring democracy to the military-ruled Myanmar, Nobel winning activist Aung San Suu Kyi stood for parliament in a by-election in April. She and her fellow candidates from National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory and were sworn into parliament as the country moved a step closer to democracy.

  • Ahmadinejad

    The Iranian president dominated headlines in 2012, thanks to Tehran’s alleged clandestine nuclear weapons program and anti-Zionist rhetoric. There was a point in September when an Israeli military strike on Iran seemed unavoidable. That moment has passed, but everything — Iran’s uranium enrichment program, alleged threat of nuclear weapons and the West’s economic sanctions — remains the same.

  • Vladimir Putin

    Among the flurry of decrees Vladimir Putin issued after returning to the presidency for a historic third term in May were calls for faster privatization and government-sponsored boost in capital investment and closer ties with the U.S., based on equality, non-interference in internal affairs and respect for each other’s interests. Putin, who had completed two successful presidential terms prior to becoming the prime minister during the presidential term of Dmitry Medvedev, was sworn in while riot police in Moscow were suppressing protests against his third term after a controversial election victory.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dominated headlines for his strained ties with U.S. President Barack Obama after he backed Obama’s Republican rival Mitt Romney in the presidential elections. The hawkish leader spent the second half of 2012 shouting battle cries targeting Iran and then chose to bomb several Palestinian targets, even as Palestine won a non-Member Observer State status in the U.N.

  • Kim Jong-un

    North Korean leader Kim Jon-un completed his first year in power, as Pyongyang, for the first time, successfully used a three-stage rocket to launch a satellite into orbit. Meanwhile, North Korea’s rival and much more prosperous South elected Park Geun-hye as the country’s first woman president signaling a new drive for greater engagement with Pyongyang.

  • Bashar al-Assad

    With the Syrian rebels closing in on the regime strongholds, including capital Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad is unlikely to survive 2013. However, Assad, with his allies Iran and Russia, managed to thwart all the efforts by the international community to intervene, as the bloody civil war which began in March 2011 continues.

  • Hugo Chavez

    President Hugo Chavez's terminal illness hijacked Venezuelan presidential election campaign, which would have otherwise been its best chance to reassess his 13-year-long governance and revolutionary brand of socialism. Despite the anti-incumbency wave, his young opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski couldn’t overcome the Chavismo. The 58-year-old socialist leader, who won the re-election Oct. 7, underwent his fourth cancer operation Dec. 11 in Cuba but suffered a respiratory infection. He is currently recuperating while his government officials are pushing to postpone his inauguration slated to be held Jan. 10, 2013.

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