Some world leaders, even during crises that negatively impact the people’s love for them, retain the confidence of citizens to a considerable degree. If investment flows into the country also grow and the GDP is trending up, such a leader could be deemed successful, even if his political views evoke disapproval in neighboring countries. The World Economic Journal put together a mini-rating of successful Presidents in 2012. The leaders listed here are very different, but their popularity at home can’t be denied.
Hitch Your Wagon to a President
At the top of our ratings is Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. According to a poll conducted jointly by the Datafolha Research Institute and the country’s largest newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo, 62% of citizens said Ms. Rousseff’s leadership was “excellent” or “good.” Each quarter, there were increases in foreign direct investments. For example, in the third quarter of last year, cash flows grew $3.1 billion, according to the “Foreign Direct Investment” report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The percentage of people who are satisfied with their standard of living has also increased every year in Brazil. The 2012 results made the home of Carnival the 21st happiest country, whereas in 2006, it ranked 63rd.
Ms. Rousseff’s life seems like an action movie: The daughter of Bulgarian immigrants, 17-year-old Dilma began to be interested in politics. and three years later joined the Socialist Party’s youth organization. She was already in the ranks of the National Liberation Team, which led the war against the military dictatorship. At the age of 23, the future President was imprisoned and tortured. Two years later, she was released, completed her studies at the Rio Grande do Sul Federal University, joined the ranks of the opposition, and was involved in setting up the Democratic Labor Party. A few years after that, in the late ’80s, Rousseff became the Municipal Secretary of Treasury for Porto Alegre. In the 1990s, she headed the Foundation of Economics and Statistics, combining this with her work at the Ministry of Energy of Rio Grande do Sul. In 2003, she was Minister of Energy, and in 2010, she became the President of Brazil and the first woman in the country’s history to be “behind the wheel.
A Chemical Combination of Scientist, Chancellor, and Woman
The silver medal also went to a woman. In early 2013, this leader’s ratings rose to their highest level since 2009, according to Bloomberg. The country’s main economic indicators have risen as well. Germany’s GDP grew $11 billion from 2010-2011, and in 2012 it grew $93 billion to $3.194 trillion, according to the CIA.
On the happiness scale (which takes into account average lifespan, satisfaction with life, and the environment), Goethe’s birthplace is on middle ground in 46th place, which bespeaks stable well-being, and in which Angela Merkel has had a hand.
The daughter of a Lutheran pastor who sympathized with the communist regime in Germany, a physicist by training and a Doctor of Science, Ms. Merkel began her career in the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences (Berlin), where she worked from 1978 to 1990. After the dissolution of the Academy, the future Chancellor worked for the Democratic Awakening party. She was a temporary administrator and then a consultant, before becoming the deputy spokesperson. In 1998 Ms. Merkel married a chemistry professor and became the Secretary-General of the Christian Democratic Union. A year later she was already the party Chair and the first woman in this position. In 2005, Angela Merkel took her first oath as Chancellor.
Judo and GDP
The bronze medal goes to Russia and its leader, judo master Vladimir Putin. The country’s 2012 GDP, under Putin’s strict leadership, increased by $87 billion, and foreign direct investment in the third quarter grew $7.1 billion, says the OECD. According to polls, Russia’s leader is supported by 52% of citizens, which is much more than, say, his American counterpart. Although this number has fallen from 60-65% in his first term, from 77% at the end of his second term, and from 57% in May 2012, his political supporters are not losing any sleep over this. The current support is more than enough for the authorities to steer the charted course, and a decline of 25 percentage points for a politician who has dominated the scene for 12 years shouldn’t be considered such a bad result.
A Military Bearing and the Will To Win
In fourth place is the leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who is confidently holding power for the fourth consecutive term. Studies show that, despite serious illness, which calls into question his ability to govern effectively in the near future, his popularity as President is among the highest in the region. A poll conducted by Consulta Mitofsky showed that popular support is today at about 64%. Year over year, the volume of foreign direct investment is growing. According to the Central Bank of Venezuela, from January to December 2011, FDI increased $3.2 billion (or 24.6%, using American statistics). In 2012, GDP grew $21.9 billion, according to the CIA.
Chavez graduated from the Military Academy of Venezuela and served as an army officer. In 1992, the future leader took part in the overthrow of the government, for which he was sentenced to two years in prison. But seven years later he moved into the President’s office. Chavez has settled in comfortably, making the country the ninth happiest in the world (at least in the view of its own citizens).
Master of Economics in a Country with an Impeccable Reputation
Canada and its Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, take fifth place. Although only 36% of the nation supports him today, many polls show that the country is one of the most attractive in the world across many indicators. Research by Country RepTrak shows this: The company interviewed 36,000 respondents in this G-8 country, in order to select the country with the best reputation. Criteria included: population density, interest in the country for economic, political, and environmental reasons, as well as readiness to recommend it as a place to visit, live, study, shop, and invest. Canada was named the country with the best reputation in 2012.
The good reputation is also confirmed by GDP: Canada’s Gross Domestic Product last year grew $28 billion, totaling $1.446 trillion. Prime Minister Harper, a former mailroom employee at a hotel, and a systems administrator with a Master’s Degree in economics from the University of Calgary, played an important role in this increase.
The Whole List, Please
Next come India and Mexico, the Presidents of which were elected last year. Both countries show steady economic growth, with GDPs of $4.735 and $1.758 trillion, respectively. More and more people approve of these newly minted leaders every month. Ratings of the 45-year-old Enrique Pena Nieto grew 15 points to 57% as of July.
China is in eighth place, with its new leader Xi Jinping. The country’s confident economic growth is demonstrated by its GDP, which increased $9 billion in 2012 to $12.38 trillion. In ninth place is the reelected American President, Barack Obama. The budget deficit was not taken into account in the U.S. leader’s rating, nor was the fact that Obama’s victory was harder than analysts had predicted. Rounding off the top ten is the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. According to the Center for Strategic Research, 93% of the middle class approves of this leader, who has run the country for nine years. GDP is growing steadily: In 2012, it surpassed the previous year by $3.59 billion, totaling $98.16 billion.
Text: Dariya Getmanova