MANILA, AUGUST 30, 2008 (STAR) Three impeachment and coup attempts and a slew of scandals since 2001 could not drive her out of power. For that, President Arroyo climbed back up in Forbes Magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women,” ranking 41st on the list, two places ahead of US First Lady Laura Bush.

The most powerful woman in the world is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, “topping the list for the third year running as the ranking democratically elected female leader,” Forbes Magazine said in its website.

Forbes says Mrs. Arroyo “is sure to fight back” in the face of “rumors of another ouster campaign in the works.”

The President ranked 51st in the annual Forbes list last year after placing 45th in 2006. This year, she comes after Melinda Gates (No. 40), wife of billionaire Bill Gates, and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi (No. 38).

“The scandal-tainted president’s popularity fell to a record low in June over escalating food and energy prices. Arroyo soon announced a deal with oil companies to trim diesel prices,” Tatiana Serafin wrote in the Forbes list.

“A recent imbroglio: Arroyo’s husband is among those accused of accepting bribes in a $330-million deal with a Chinese telecom firm. Despite rumors of another ouster campaign in the works, Arroyo has survived three impeachment attempts and three coup plots since taking office in 2001 and is sure to fight back.”

Merkely, who became chancellor of Germany in November 2005, was cited by the magazine for her efforts to streamline Europe’s biggest economy, increasing the national retirement age and putting more women in senior government posts.

“We measure power as a composite of public profile – calculated using press mentions – and financial heft,” Forbes Magazine explained.

“The economic component of the ranking considers job title and past career accomplishments, as well as the amount of money a woman controls,” it added.

In her debut to the list, Sheila Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. of the US, came in at second “as she tries to stave off financial panic amid a worldwide credit crisis,” Forbes said.

Forbes Magazine cites “hopeful signs” for women in its fifth annual ranking, which “showcases women who have beat out men for top posts this year.”

The highest-ranked woman in business is the third most powerful woman in the world, Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, “as she expands the food and beverage giant internationally to counter a decline in America’s preference for soda and chips,” Forbes said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice fell to No. 7 from fourth last year. Her current ranking is followed by UK’s Cynthia Caroll, chief executive of Anglo-American.

The only woman from an Asian country in the Top 10 is No. 8 Ho Ching, chief executive of Temasek Holdings in Singapore.

Completing the Top 10 most powerful women in the world are Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive of Areva, and France’s Anne Mulcahy, chairman and chief executive of Xerox Corp.

Among the more popular women in the power list are US Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (No. 28), US Speaker Nancy Pelosi (No. 35) and television host Oprah Winfrey (No. 36).

“The woman with the highest public profile” this year is Clinton, Forbes said, “who garnered intense media scrutiny for her failed US presidential bid.”

The list is comprised of 54 businesswomen and 23 politicians along with media executives, personalities and non-profit leaders.

“Just under half the women ranked this year are based outside of the US,” Forbes said. “Top countries represented include the UK (with five women), China (four), France, India and the Netherlands (three each).”

Forbes noted that Morocco has its first woman ranked as among the most powerful this year: Hynd Bouhia, director-general of Casablanca Stock Exchange at No. 29. – With AP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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