For only the second time during his tenure as America’s commander-in-chief, US President Barack Obama has come in at second place on Forbes Magazine‘s list of the world’s 72 most powerful people.
Significantly, Obama was beaten this year by none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin, answering the magazine’s rhetorical question: “Who’s more powerful: the autocratic leader of a former superpower or the handcuffed commander in chief of the most dominant country in the world?”
The list is decided by Forbes‘ top editors, and candidates are selected based off of the following four criteria: whether they have power over a large number of people; the financial resources they control; whether they are powerful in “multiple spheres”; and whether they actively exercise the power they have.
That final criteria appears to have been the deciding factor between Putin and Obama, in a year which has seen US prevarication over Syria and an unconvincing Middle East foreign policy all round – not to mention the Edward Snowden saga and recent US government shutdown – all of which contributed to the magazine’s rather pithy summary that: “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.”
The last time Obama was beaten to the top spot was in 2010, by the then-Chinese premier Hu Jintao. His successor, Xi Jinping, came in at third place in 2013. Jinping was followed by Pope Francis, in fourth place, and the world’s most powerful woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in fifth place.