Power has been called many things. Pretty isn’t one of them.
No one would call Vladimir Putin a good guy. In 2014 he strong-armed his way into possession of Crimea and waged an ugly proxy war in neighboring Ukraine, during which an almost certainly Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile downed a civilian jetliner. But as the undisputed, unpredictable and unaccountable head of an energy-rich, nuclear-tipped state, no one would ever call him weak.
So who’s more powerful: the omnipotent head of a feisty former superpower or the handcuffed head of the most dominant country in the world? For the second year running, our votes went with the Russian president as the world’s most powerful person, followed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Our annual ranking of the World’s 72 Most Powerful People (one for every 100 million people on the planet) is based on voting by a panel of FORBES editors, who consider things like financial resources, scope and use of power, and the number of people they impact. (See full methodology here.)
This is not a lineup of the most influential or an anointing of the new establishment. It is an evaluation of hard power. We insist the people on our list wield the kind of power that shapes and bends the world, and moves people, markets, armies and minds. All of this, of course, is open to debate, and we welcome it. Join the conversation and leave your comments below.