Politico Identifies the 28 Most Influential Figures Shaping Europe

Politico has unveiled its annual ranking of the most influential people in Europe. In addition to the overall most influential figure on the continent, the list is divided into three categories — movers, disruptors, and dreamers — each representing a distinct type of power. In total, the ranking features 28 individuals who will shape the politics and agenda in Europe in the coming year.

According to Politico’s version, the most influential person in European politics this year is the leader of the Polish opposition, who may become the country’s new prime minister, Donald Tusk. Over the past two decades, Tusk has been engaged in a battle for the “soul of Poland” against conservative Jarosław Kaczyński, and now, after eight years of Kaczyński’s rule, Poland stands on the threshold of a new era with Tusk.

In the “movers” category, the most influential person in Europe is Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, according to Politico. Meloni’s rise to power last year caused a stir among centrists across the continent, and Kyiv expected a significant reduction in support from Italy. However, Meloni, in her role as prime minister, has pursued a remarkably moderate and constructive policy, distancing herself from the pro-Putin stance she expressed in 2014 and 2018.

Meloni has rebranded herself as a tough critic of Russia. Shortly after the full-scale invasion, she criticized the “unacceptable large-scale act of war by Putin’s Russia against Ukraine,” and earlier this year, she visited Kyiv as a sign of solidarity. At the G7 summit in Japan in May, Meloni pleasantly surprised American officials with her willingness to build strong relations with Biden; two months later, she visited the White House, where she received a warm reception.

In the “disruptors” category, according to Politico, the leader is Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Russian central bank. The publication views her as the chief technocrat who compels Putin’s military machine to work. During her ten years leading Russia’s central bank, her hawkish monetary policy repeatedly saved the ruble and buoyed the country’s economy. As Putin’s banker, once considered a restraining factor, and now a silent assistant, she managed to mitigate the consequences of unprecedented Western sanctions aimed at depleting the Kremlin’s coffers and continue the war in Ukraine.

In the “dreamers” category, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emerged victorious. Politico compares the Ukrainian president to Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela, who achieved victories not through the strength of their armies or economies but through the power of their words. The publication notes that from his bold video “We are here,” filmed in the early days of the war near the presidential office on Bankova Street, to his iconic phrase “I need ammunition, not evacuation,” in response to the U.S. proposal for evacuation, Zelensky inspired Ukrainians to continue resisting Russia’s attempt at full-scale invasion and appealed, shamed, and pleaded with the international community to help them in this endeavor.

A reminder that last year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky topped this ranking and was recognized by Politico as the most influential person in Europe for the year 2022.