Contenders for Time's Person of the Year

The American magazine will announce its Person of the Year today – and the contenders are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy. Ian Johnston weighs up the odds

A brutal dictator, a latex-clad pop princess and the first Jesuit Pope are all in the running to be named Time's Person of the Year 2013 today. Designed to represent the Zeitgeist of the year – good or bad – previous winners have included Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Russia's Vladimir Putin, "The Protester" in 2011 in a nod to the Arab Spring uprisings, and "You" in 2006 to mark the power of the internet.

The shortlist reflects America's obsession with Barack Obama's bid to reform healthcare, but also issues such as the civil war in Syria, gay and lesbian rights, and covert surveillance of the public by the state.

Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria


A strong contender for all the wrong reasons, Assad could join the likes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin as winners with an appetite for death and destruction. The United Nations' top human-rights official, Navi Pillay, said this month that investigators had found evidence that massacres, chemical attacks, torture, rape and other abuses were linked to "the highest level of government, including the head of state". Ladbrokes: 8/1; Paddy Power: 10/1 (all odds as of 12pm yesterday)

Miley Cyrus, singer


The former child actress's overtly sexual performance at the MTV Video Music Awards got everyone talking and the word "twerk" added to The New Oxford Dictionary of English. Nancy Gibbs, the managing editor of Time, noted that "power is not just political, it can be cultural or spiritual". She added that Cyrus had become a symbol of an "age of exhibitionism" where everyone has a camera. L: 33/1; PP: 25/1

Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church


The first Jesuit Pope, the Argentine pontiff has described unfettered capitalism as a "new tyranny" and launched a survey on attitudes towards contraceptives, gay and lesbian Catholics having sex, and the remarriage of divorcees, while resisting the ordination of female priests and a change on abortion. L: 2/1; PP: 4/5

Barack Obama, President of the US


If he wins, America's first black leader will join President Franklin D Roosevelt as the only people to hold the title three times. It might not be cause for celebration, given a particularly troubled year for the President. A CBS poll last month put his approval rating at just 37 per cent, his lowest figure since coming to power, amid ongoing anger over problems with the flagship Affordable Care Act, widely known as "Obamacare". L: 16/1; PP: 25/1

Edward Snowden, NSA leaker


Some call him a traitor, others view him as a whistleblower who exposed mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency and other bodies. The revelations from the secret files that Snowden took while working for the NSA continue to make headlines. Now seeking asylum in Russia, he is a strong contender regardless of his status as hero or villain. L: 2/1; PP: 5/4

Edith Windsor, gay-rights activist


The Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional for the Defence of Marriage Act to apply only to heterosexual couples, meaning gay and lesbian couples could inherit property and receive the tax and welfare benefits in the same way. Windsor sued the US government after her partner died and she couldn't claim a tax exemption on her inheritance. L: 25/1; PP: 80/1

Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran


His campaign slogan was "moderation and wisdom", he's nicknamed the "diplomat sheikh", and is said to have a "good sense of humour". It is hard to imagine a more different image to predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some insist Rouhani is a hardliner at heart, but last month saw an interim deal to end a decade-long stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme, ending the prospect of military action by Israel, the US and others, at least for now. L: 4/1; PP: 25/1

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon


Bezos, worth an estimated $25bn, according to Forbes magazine, built Amazon from scratch to become the world's biggest online retailer. He was Time's Person of the Year in 1999 and Fortune's Businessperson of the Year in 2012. This year, he bought The Washington Post and announced that Amazon planned to use drones to fly products to customers. L: 12/1; PP: 40/1

Ted Cruz, Texas senator


The Republican was at the heart of efforts by right-wingers to defund the "Obamacare" health reforms that saw the US government partially shut down for 16 days, pushing the country to the brink of defaulting on its debt. He continues to insist that the President is acting outside the law. L: 20/1; PP: 66/1

Kathleen Sebelius, US Secretary of Health and Human Services


Sebelius has previously been named one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes magazine. On the list because of the problems with Obamacare. L: 12/1; PP: 50/1

All pictures are courtesy of Getty Images

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone