25th Sep 2023

Merkel beats Rice as world's most powerful woman

German chancellor Angela Merkel has come top in a Forbes magazine list of the world's most powerful women, beating US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice despite Berlin's first lady not even featuring in the 2005 ratings.

Forbes writes in a commentary accompanying the table that the 52 year-old Christian Democrat politician from east Germany "has been impressing world leaders from Tony Blair to George W. Bush."

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  • Merkel: the world's most powerful broker, analysts say (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

While pointing out that Mrs Merkel's domestic approval ratings dropped from 80% to 56% earlier this year and with reform battles head, analysts quoted in the article said her key strength is "unassuming and tireless networking" and that she "sees her role to be a broker."

They refer to a boost in German business thanks to more contacts with top US companies and the overall improvement in political relations with Washington, as well as her achievements at EU level during tough budgetary talks last year.

"In addition, Merkel allied Germany with the US to oppose Iran's nuclear activities, and she was vocal on energy security at the G8 summit meeting this summer, where she was the only female leader at the table," Forbes added.

Angela Merkel is the only European politician who made it into the world's top ten, with Ms Rice at number two, China's deputy leader Wu Yi at three and the rest all coming from the corporate world.

Anne Lauvergeon from France (eighth) - chairman of French nuclear-engineering company Areva and a former aide to the late socialist president Francois Mitterrand - also stands out from the US-dominated business elite.

Six other EU politicians made the top 100: British foreign minister Margaret Beckett (29); Finnish president Tarja Halonen (44); Irish head of state Mary McAleese (55); French defence minister Michele Alliot-Marie (57); Latvian president Vaira Vike-freiberga (63) and Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis (66).

Of the seven European female commissioners, only Dutch woman Neelie Kroes - in charge of competition - made it on the list at 38, while British monarch Queen Elizabeth II came in at 46.

The UK fields three of Europe's top business women, Turkey and Sweden have two and the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy have one each, with Italy's Marina Berlusconi - media mogul Silvio Berlusconi's oldest daughter - making the grade.


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