Russian president Vladmir Putin batted away competition from Barack Obama, Bill Gates and the Pope to claim the top spot on Forbes’s annual list of the world’s most powerful and influential people.
Mr Putin’s strengthening control in Russia has resulted in what Forbes described as a clear “shifting of individual power dynamics”, while inaction over Syria and the recent government shutdown has seen Mr Obama lose his influence on the international stage.
Forbes’ judges use four criteria to determine the top leaders: How many they govern; how much money they oversee; how many spheres of influence they tout; and how actively they use their powers to influence and change the world.
Chinese premier Xi Jinping was at number three in the list, Pope Francis was number four and German chancellor Angela Merkel was the top-placed woman at number five.
Microsoft tycoon and philanthropist Bill Gates took the sixth place, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was at number seven, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah at eight and European Central Bank president Mario Draghi at nine.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has dropped out of the top 10 on Forbes magazine’s list, slipping one place to 11th, behind Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke.
This year’s list features 17 heads of state who run nations with a combined GDP of some $48 trillion — including the three most powerful people, Putin, Obama and Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.
The 27 CEOs and chairs control over $3 trillion in annual revenues, and 12 are entrepreneurs, including new billionaires on the list, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote (No. 64), founder of Dangote Group, and Oracle’s Larry Ellison (No. 58).
Among the 13 newcomers are Pope Francis (No. 4), Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee (No. 41), and South Korean President Park Geun-hye (No. 52).
The magazine ranked the 72 people on the list – one for every 100 million people on earth – according to how many people they have power over; the financial resources they control; if they have influence in more than one sphere; and how actively they wield their power to change the world.
Forbes said: “Putin has solidified his control over Russia while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president — latest example: the government shutdown mess. Anyone watching this year’s chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics.”