NEW YORK: Barack Obama on Wednesday became the first sitting United States (US) president to slide out of the top two power rankings as published by Forbes, beaten not just by Russian President Vladimir Putin but also German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now been ranked ninth as he jumped six places from last year. He is now placed between British Prime Minister David Cameron who ranks at eighth place and Google’s Larry Page at 10.
Putin claimed the first spot for the third year in a row and was then followed by Merkel and Barack Obama who was pushed down to third place this year.
The magazine published its seventh annual ranking just weeks after Putin opened a new front in the Syria war by conducting air strikes, then Putin hosted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Moscow.
This is the fourth time that US President Obama has failed to secure the first place.
“As Obama enters the final year of his presidency, it’s clear his influence is shrinking, and it’s a bigger struggle than ever to get things done,” Forbes wrote.
“At home, his approval ratings are perpetually stuck under 50 per cent; abroad, he’s outshined by Merkel in Europe, and outmaneuvered by Putin in the Middle East.
“In August, Putin’s domestic approval rating soared to 87 per cent, the highest level in six years, according to an independent polling centre.”
His intervention in Syria has seen Putin seek to muscle his way back to global influence after months of Western isolation over Ukraine.
“Putin continues to prove he’s one of the few men in the world powerful enough to do what he wants — and get away with it,” said Forbes.
Despite international sanctions imposed after Moscow annexed Crimea and over the conflict in Ukraine, Putin has made the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) look weak, and helped rebuild Russian influence abroad, Forbes said.
Indian PM Modi “presided over 7.4pc% GDP growth in his first year in office, and raised his profile as a global leader during official visits with Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. A barnstorming tour of Silicon Valley reinforced his nation’s massive importance in tech,” Forbes said.
“But governing 1.2 billion people requires more than shaking hands: Now Modi must pass his party’s reform agenda and keep fractious opposition under control,” it also said.
The German chancellor, jumped up three places to grab the second spot, last year occupied by Obama.
“Merkel is the backbone of the 28-member European Union (EU), and her decisive actions dealing with the Syrian refugee problem and the Greek credit crisis helped bump her up the list,” Forbes said.
Pope Francis was number four and Chinese leader Xi Jinping number five, falling two spots from last year.
The 2015 list ranks 73 powerbrokers among 7.3 billion people on the planet.
Among the eight newcomers were Saudi Arabia’s new monarch, King Salman, number 14, and US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at number 58 and 72 respectively.
Thirty on the list come from the US, eight come from China, and four each from Japan and Russia.
Nine women made the cut.
The youngest on the list are 31-year-old Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, at number 19, and North Korea’s 32-year-old leader Kim Jong-un at number 46.