IT is hard to disagree with the view of Forbes magazine that the most powerful woman in the world today is Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor who expects to win the German elections next month. This is the fourth successive year in which Forbes has named Mrs Merkel in first place. She is an extremely capable lady and it is not to criticise her to say that her pre-eminence also owes something to the fact that there are currently so few women in the number one jobs in government. In its listings Forbes mixes politics and business and eight of its Top Ten women are the heads of international companies.

What about Hillary Clinton? She is placed 36th, yet her predecessor as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was first in 2004 and 2005 and second in 2006. Was Ms Rice really more powerful than Mrs Clinton is likely to be?

Her policies and presence in those three years have left almost no trace since the Bush administration ended. Forbes takes into account economic impact, media reach and career accomplishment in compiling its list. Queen Elizabeth's economic impact cannot have rated very highly so she has done well to improve her standing by fourteen places from last year to 42nd, not far from her new friend Michelle Obama who is 40th.


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