Merkel, Jolie slog it out for 'Most admired'

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Merkel, Jolie slog it out for 'Most admired'

Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie are hands down the most admired man and woman in the world, according to YouGov's 2015 poll of 25,000 people in 23 countries. But within countries, the US actress and humanitarian was often outdone by Chancellor Angela Merkel.


Apart from elite events like the World Economic Forum in Davos or the Cannes Film Festival, there are few places you'll find movie stars, tycoons, royals and politicians rubbing shoulders.

The YouGov polling organization's annual 'Most admired' survey is one of them though. And this year's results offered the same baffling juxtaposition of big names like the Dalai Lama and French right-wing populist politician Marine Le Pen.

In Germany, former chancellor Helmut Schmidt leads the men's top ten this year, while Merkel unsurprisingly spearheads the women's, leaving Jolie trailing in 5th place.

Internationally, German hopes were pinned on the chancellor, given the lack of profile of such home-grown favourites like TV presenter Günther Jauch (6th man), and singer Helene Fischer.

She is the third most admired woman after Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who took the No.2 spot worldwide after Jolie.

But since not even Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher could make the ratings abroad, it fell to Merkel to challenge the global supremacy of Brad Pitt's wife.

Jolie, who shot to stardom to become one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses, has also made a name promoting humanitarian causes, including serving as a Goodwill Ambassador and then Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Battle of the Angels

In China, Angelina Jolie and Angela Merkel went neck and neck, with the actress/envoy finally edging the politician into 10th place against her 8th (with a little help from Celine Dion in 9th spot).

In Britain, Merkel came in one slot behind Jolie in 8th place.

Russians propelled Jolie into pole position, but still accorded Merkel a respectable 9th place - perhaps because she is one of the few top world leaders still on speaking terms with Vladimir Putin.

If it even needed to be said, the Kremlin boss is Russia's most admired man on earth.

Hotter climes, hotter blood?

In Brazil, Egypt and Singapore, Jolie stormed to first place among the women, to Merkel's modest 8th and 6th slots respectively, and a no-show in the south-east Asian republic.   

The actress also ran riot in the affections of Indians (3rd) and Nigerians (4th), compared to another flunk and 10th place for Merkel in those countries.

But the huge importance of movies and entertainment over world affairs in many poorer countries - and often acute refugee crises - may explain Jolie's dominance as the survey moved south towards the equator.

Cooler heads to the north?

By contrast, Merkel outpaced her glamorous rival in Nordic climes. Pipping her in Finland (7th vs. 8th spot), the German leader trounced her in Denmark  (5th vs. 10th). Swedes ranked her 4th and forgot about her rival altogether, while Norwegians gave her 6th to Jolie's 9th place.

Whistleblowing beats wolf whistles

Apart from a strong global showing by political figures like Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, current affairs and geopolitical controversy were reflected in the wide selection of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the top ten.


For what it's worth, in the combined male and female ratings for each country, he also beat Jolie in Germany, UK, Denmark and Sweden , but drew with her in 9th place in Norway.

Grey matter matters

British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking is the UK's most admired man. He also made the male top ten in Germany (3rd), US, France, Brazil and a string of mainly northern hemisphere countries.

How it worked

Of course, the 'Most admired' results are only an indication of preferences, rarther than hard and fast data. Respondents all made their selections online, meaning the survey was drawn from the computer literate segment of populations.

Two rounds of consultations were carried out among the same people in December and January.

First they were asked one basic question: “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?” Choices were then condensed into a second multiple choice round, which included both international and popular local figures.

Politics, religion, sports and popular culture heavily influence the results. But the survey still threw up some surprising entries like Ben Carson, the US neurosurgeon who first successfully separated conjoined twins joined at the head.

And it's nice to know that the German fan base of actress Sophia Loren, 80, remains staunchly loyal. The Italian-French bombshell of the 50s and 60s (and 70s!) is still regarded as the 6th most popular woman in Germany.

But her lasting profile may be due to her all-rounder status too. Loren is not known to have attended the Davos forum, but she was certainly at Cannes - and also held the same UN position as Jolie, as Goodwill Ambassador.


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