The most powerful people in the world

Forbes has listed its pick of the most powerful people in the world for 2012, with heads of state, financial leaders – and the Pope himself – filling in the top ranks.

Every year, Forbes compiles its list of the most powerful people in the world following the guidelines of four criteria:

  • Must have power over a lot of people;
  • Must have control over large financial resources;
  • Are powerful figures in many spheres/sectors;
  • Must actively make use of their power.

Each candidate was looked at in their own personal contexts, and the final choices were decided by an average score derived from rankings made by 10 senior Forbes editors.

The top rank

Topping the list is US President Barack Obama, who retained the top spot from the previous year. In 2012, Obama secured a second term in office of the US president – making him the commander in chief of one of the world’s most powerful nations.

Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel is second. Merkel is subsequently also the most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes’ ranking.

“Merkel is the backbone of the 27-member European Union and carries the fate of the Euro on her shoulders; she’s shown her power through a hard-line austerity solution for the European debt crisis,” Forbes said.

Other heads of state in the top 10 include Russian President Vladimir Putin (#3); King of Suadi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud (#7); Xi Jinping, General Secretary of China’s Communist Party (#9); and the UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron (#10).

Head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI places 5th on the list, being the spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics, or about one-sixth of the world’s population, according to Forbes.

President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi (#8) makes an entry into the top 10, while Mark Zuckerburg (#25) drops out of the top 10, where he placed 9th in 2011.

Microsoft founder and chairman, Bill gates retains his crown as the most powerful person in tech, placing 4th, overall.

# Name Title Place
1 Barack Obama President United States
2 Angela Merkel Chancellor Germany
3 Vladimir Putin President Russia
4 Bill Gates Co-Chair Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
5 Pope Benedict XVI Pope Roman Catholic Church
6 Ben Bernanke Chairman, United States Federal Reserve
7 Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud King Saudi Arabia
8 Mario Draghi President European Central Bank
9 Xi Jinping General Secretary China Communist Party
10 David Cameron Prime Minister United Kingdom

You can find the full list of Forbes’ 71 most powerful people in the world here.

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The most powerful people in the world