In Europe power shifts quickly, so help us plot who really has control in 2022.
POLITICO’s annual list of the 28 most powerful people who we reckoned would be making the big decisions across Europe this year was published in early December. It was a result of months of debate amongst our 100-strong editorial team across the Continent.
Since then, Russia has invaded Ukraine, provoking the largest conventional military conflict in post-war Europe. Such a defining event throws our assumptions for the rest of the year into flux. Instead of focusing on pandemic management, economic recovery and rule of law, Europe’s leaders face a pressing and imminent security threat that marks a milestone in the post-Cold War era.
This prompts us to look again at the power matrix of doers, dreamers and disrupters in Europe in 2022. Remember, this list isn’t a political beauty contest or an endorsement of any of the individuals on it. Far from it. We aimed to forecast who would be making the political weather and taking the big calls — for good or ill.
Did we get it right?
With two months of the year already behind us — and highly consequential ones at that — we’d like your help.
On March 22, POLITICO holds a gala event to look back on the list, and we want to ask you, our readers, who should be in and who should be left out.
For example, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy didn’t make the final cut for the POLITICO 28 class of 2022. He’s since emerged as a leader not only able to rally his people and defend his own country but capable of persuading other European heads of government to make the kind of decisions that were unthinkable just days ago. Who would have taken a bet on that happening last December?
Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been forced to cancel the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and pay for arms that will be sent to Ukraine, breaking a long-standing taboo. Elsewhere, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have carved out roles critical to the Continent’s response to the war.
The person we rated the most powerful in Europe — Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi — has, however, so far failed to take a leading role in the response to Moscow’s aggression.
Many of our calls last year have aged well. Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator still running Belarus, did make the list as a pest Europe couldn’t ignore. He’s making good on that prediction. Meanwhile, Eliot Higgins’ e-spy network Bellingcat has been keeping watch of war from afar and blasting disinformation online.
But we didn’t find a place for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who has upended the Continent’s security and seems intent on carrying on the fight despite the disastrous consequences for both Ukraine and his own people.
So in a Europe ravaged by war, but seemingly united with purpose to battle back, who should make our list now — and why?
Tell us what you think here.