Q: Who is the most powerful person in the world?
(I can almost hear the frantic tapping of keyboards attempting to reply to my ambiguous question.)
Is it Barack Obama - USA? Vladimir Putin - Russia? Angela Merkel - Fourth Reich? Christine Lagarde - IMF? Ban Ki-Moon - UN?...
Influential, they most certainly are, but all powerful? No no.
I'll come back to that but first let me explain why I've asked the question.
Last week I was in a pub in Ireland, involved in an interesting political debate with friends regarding certain leaders in EU countries who appear to be short-changing their voters. The imposition of austerity measures by some governments to get the economy on an even keel are causing unjust hardship to the most vulnerable in society; the elderly the poor and the sick. The real truth is that all of society suffers.
We were referring in particular to Portugal's leader, Pedro Passos Coelho;
|Pedro Passos Coelho|
I went on to argue the case for Pedro who, despite having the right intentions and boundless integrity, is so politically impotent that he should be exonerated of all blame regarding the state of the Portuguese economy.
Pedro's impotence stems from the fact that he has to first accept the collective decisions of his cabinet ministers, then accept the directives from the European Union - Brussels - to whom his country is eternally contracted (shackled) to, and Brussels in turn follows the path that they, along with the International Monetary Fund, have set in motion.
In democratic systems no single leader has total power. Be it good or bad, that is what the voters have chosen. Democracy.
Democracy is not perfect, it just happens to be the best and fairest political system ever devised.
Our debate ended when Claudia made this interesting observation;
"If Pedro is impotent how come he's fucking so many people?"
In answer to the original question of this post, the first non democratic leader that came to mind who'd probably fit the bill of most powerful, was Xi Jinping - the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People's Republic of China and...wait for it...Chairman
of the Central Military Commission of China.
But even Xi Jinping, despite his mighty powerful position, has to bow to a certain amount of pressure and consensus from the six Politburo Committee Chairmen that form his cabinet.
So, the title surely has to go the megalomaniac leader who wastes his country's very limited resources on his lavish life-style and in building a nuclear arsenal - while half the population goes undernourished. The world's number one despot, who answers to no one but is capable of starting a world war, is...Kim Jong-un
The inappropriate anger we direct at leaders such as Obama, Cameron, Passos Coelho, Merkel and many others for their inability to carry out promises spewed out in attempts to get elected, should be put in perspective.
To all those who misdirect their anger at their leaders I say
'Like it or Lump it.'
The only alternative is to follow the example of the German people who, in 1933, democratically elected Hitler, the dictator who in turn became the biggest loser in history.
Is that an alternative worth considering? Or should we learn the lessons from history and avoid repeating the same mistakes?