Germany's Angela Merkel tops Forbes' list of most powerful women

Dubbed the leader of the "last bastion of Western liberal power," Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has topped the list again. But just behind her is another European leader navigating her country's post-EU future.

American business magazine Forbes on Thursday published its list of the world's 100 most powerful women, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel topping the list for the 11th time.

Politics | 31.08.2017

"Once again, Merkel tops the list. As the de facto leader of the struggling European coalition, Merkel this year won a hard-fought election that saw the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party creep into the Bundestag," Forbes wrote.

Read more: Angela Merkel: How the German chancellor defeats her opponents

"She'll have to continue to hold tight to the EU rudder as she faces oncoming storms from Brexit and the growing anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe. She's working from a position of strength though as Germany's economy continues to grow."

In Focus
Politics | 23.05.2017

Merkel was also given the No. 3 spot on Forbes' 2016 list of most powerful people in the world, with many labeling her the leader of "the last bastion of Western liberal power."

The many faces of Angela Merkel

The 'Merkel diamond'

Merkel has become known for using the same hand gesture at public appearances and in front of the camera, putting her fingertips together to form what some call the Merkel-rhombus – or in German, the "Merkel-Raute." If she has done so consciously or as a routine gesture out of habit is a question that have contemporary critics and journalists puzzled. Just what is she trying to say with it?

The many faces of Angela Merkel

A European politician

The German chancellor is known for her commanding and engaged appearance, often appearing quite somber, especially in Europe. Though she has been known to crack a smile at the right time, here, at the recent European leaders summit in Bratislava, she was more composed. To her left is Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke and to her right, the Prime Minster of Belgium, Charles Michel.

The many faces of Angela Merkel

Selfie with the chancellor

Merkel has come into the spotlight for her response to last year's influx of refugees.. Questions about her response to the crisis can be answered when elements of her personal life are considered, as Rinke does in his book. She frequently visits schools and refugee shelters and while doing so, takes time out for selfies, as here in 2015 with Syrian asylum applicant Anas Modamani in Berlin.

The many faces of Angela Merkel

A juggler in the coalition

As chancellor and head of the CDU party, Merkel faces a bit of difficulty in remaining considerate with some of her working partners. She does not respond with the huffiness her SPD party colleague Sigmar Gabriel is known for. Against attacks by the head of CSU Bavaria, the "archetypical Bavarian man," Horst Seehofer, she responds with cool objectivity.

The many faces of Angela Merkel

Curious about the digital age

For trained physicist Angela Merkel, the world of the internet and digital media is said to be relatively foreign, although her team does now have an Instagram account, which is fed by her official photographer. Still, that didn't stop her from grabbing the ear of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at a lunch meeting at the UN in 2015.

The many faces of Angela Merkel

The preacher's daughter

The daughter of a Protestant minister, Merkel's values are said by Rinke to have been shaped by her Christian upbringing. In 2016, she was given a private audience with Pope Francis I at the Vatican, where the two exchanged words on their favorite books.

The many faces of Angela Merkel

A toast to friendly political relations

Merkel is not known to let it all hang out and, though rare due to her full schedule, celebrations are done in style. In 2013, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Élysee agreement between Germany and France, Merkel invited the entire parliament to toast the two countries' friendly relations over champagne.

The many faces of Angela Merkel

A private chancellor

The chancellor gets only a few free vacation moments each year and even when on holiday, as here in Poland, she is not free from the prying eyes of the public. Her husband, Joachim Sauer, also pictured here, is rarely in the spotlight.

From Brexit to Facebook

British Prime Minister Theresa May was ranked second most powerful woman in 2017, citing her position in navigating the UK out of the EU.

Read more: Theresa May's cult of personality

May was handed the mandate after her predecessor David Cameron stepped down in the wake of a divisive referendum vote that witnessed UK voters narrowly vote in favor of separating from the bloc.

Melinda Gates came in third with Forbes dubbing her the "most powerful woman in philanthropy," while Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, came in fourth. Mary Bara, chief executive officer of US automobile maker General Motors, was named fifth most powerful woman by Forbes.

Where women rule the country

Angela Merkel

The 62-year-old was appointed chancellor in 2005 - the country's first female head of government - and is currently campaigning to secure a fourth term as Germany's leader. The pastor's daughter from communist East Germany and chemistry doctorate was named "Person of the Year 2015" by Time magazine. Amid growing right-wing populism, many media have dubbed her the leader of the free world.

Where women rule the country

Theresa May

Theresa May is the UK's second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. The 60-year-old former home secretary took office at Downing Street in July 2016, just weeks after the UK's historic Brexit vote, with the task of negotiating the country's exit. How long she will retain the reins of power remains questionable, however: a June 2017 snap election may usher her out of office.

Where women rule the country

Tsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-Wen is the first woman to serve as president of the Republic of China, more commonly known as Taiwan. Her inauguration in May 2016 led Beijing to freeze relations with the small island, which the mainland claims can never be independent. Tsai has made it clear she will not "bow to pressure" over the issue of sovereignty. She is also chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Where women rule the country

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The 78-year-old, in office as president of Liberia since 2006, is Africa's first female head of state. In 2011, Sirleaf and two other woman activists from Liberia and Yemen were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

Where women rule the country

Dalia Grybauskaite

Dalia Grybauskaite is the first woman to head the small Baltic State of Lithuania. She is often referred to as the "Iron Lady" or "Steel Magnolia" for her black belt in karate and no-nonsense manner of speaking. The 61-year-old held a number of government positions before she was elected president in 2009 and re-elected in 2014.

Where women rule the country

Erna Solberg

Norway, too, is governed by a woman. Erna Solberg took office in 2013. The 56-year-old is the wealthy northern country's second female prime minister after Gro Harlem Brundtland. Her tough asylum policies earned her the nickname "Iron Erna." She also heads up Norway's Conservative Party.

Where women rule the country

Beata Szydlo

Poland's third female prime minister has been in office since November 2015. Szydlo's government's priority to ensure the security of Poles and contribute to the EU's security, the 54-year-old seasoned politician and devout Catholic said in her first keynote address to parliament. Prior to becoming prime minister, she served as a mayor and a parliamentary representative.

Where women rule the country

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

The 49-year-old, Namibia's fourth prime minister, has been in office since 2015. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila went into exile in Sierra Leone as a young teenager. She pursued higher education in the US, graduating with a degree in economics before returning home in 1994, where she began working in politics. She is the first woman to head Namibia's government and a strong proponent of women's rights.

Where women rule the country

Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet has been the incumbent president of Chile since 2014. It is her second term: she'd already served as Chile's first female president from 2006 to 2010. After suffering imprisonment and torture as a young woman in Chile, she spent years in exile in Australia and East Germany, where she studied medicine. After returning to Chile in 1979, she pushed for a transition to democracy.

Where women rule the country

Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Forbes business magazine also featured the current prime minister of Bangladesh on its list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2016. "Sheikh Hasina Wajed has command over a country with the world's eighth largest population - 162 million people - and she has wielded this power since 2009," Forbes wrote about the 69-year-old, who has been in politics for decades.

Where women rule the country

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

The 49-year-old held several government positions and represented Croatia as Ambassador to the United States before she was elected in 2015 as the country's first woman president, and its youngest. Grabar-Kitarovic's position from 2011 to 2014 as Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO makes her the highest-ranking female ever within NATO's administrative team.