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

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on