#4: Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Prime Minister
After campaigning for the job for three election cycles, one might wonder if Mr. Rajoy regrets taking the job of prime minister. It has, no doubt, proven to be a thankless one. With roughly a quarter of the Spanish population out of work and forced government spending cuts starting to bite, Mariano Rajoy is not a popular man in his home country.
As the leader of the country currently at the center of the crisis, Rajoy is one of the key players. But unlike his German counterpart Angela Merkel, Rajoy is not in much of a position to actually act at the moment. He deserves credit for forcing through deeply unpopular austerity measures and negotiating quite favorable terms in the initial stages of the bank bailout talks. But in the end, his country’s fate lies in the hands of the ECB and Germany.
The key question for Rajoy will be if (or more likely when) he will formally request a state bailout. The delicate negotiations that follow will determine whether Spain and the eurozone are stabilized or whether the entire system rips apart at the seams. We certainly shall see whether the mild-mannered Rajoy is up to the task.