September 1, 2006

Merkel tops Rice as most powerful woman: Forbes

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has
unseated U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the
world's most powerful woman, according to a new ranking by
Forbes magazine.

"Despite her short time in office, Merkel has been dazzling
world leaders, including Tony Blair and George W. Bush," Forbes
said on its website.

"But Merkel has a tough fight ahead of her. Her approval
ratings have declined ... making it more difficult for Merkel
to win big with key legislative initiatives, including health
care reform and corporate tax restructuring," the statement

Merkel won a razor-thin victory over Gerhard Schroeder in
September 2005 snap elections. She became Germany's first
female chancellor in November and presides over a "grand
coalition" of her conservatives and the centre-left Social
Democrats (SPD).

Merkel quickly emerged as the country's most popular
politician but recent polls show her foreign minister,
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has displaced her as the country's
most respected official.

Forbes said Merkel had improved ties with the United
States, which became tense after Schroeder opposed the 2003
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and that she was the only woman at
the table during this year's summit of leaders from the Group
of Eight (G8) industrialized nations in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Rice holds the number 2 spot, followed by China's Vice
Premier Wu Yi, PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi and Xerox
Corp CEO Anne Mulcahy.

Others on the list are Sonia Gandhi (13), president of
India's National Congress Party, U.S. talk-show host Oprah
Winfrey (14), U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (18), British
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett (29) and First Lady Laura
Bush (43).