10. Pope Francis: “I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into—no offense intended—the sickness of coprophilia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things.” Well, we can’t all be infallible, can we?
9. French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen: “The time of the nation state has come again.” The question is whether it’s the National Front’s time as well. Le Pen, the far-right party’s charismatic leader, is the populist to watch coming into 2017, as she’s a favorite to get into the second round of the French presidential elections.
8. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi: "I know the forces up against me. They may not let me live. They may ruin me because their loot of 70 years is in trouble. But I am prepared.” One of Modi’s greatest political tests has been of his own making. He surprised the nation this fall by withdrawing certain currency notes from circulation in order to fight corruption. Despite pushback based on a rocky rollout of the demonetization program, Modi seems energized by the response.
7. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei: “‘Shake with your right hand, but hold a rock in your left one,’ as they say themselves.” When Iran’s supreme leader is quoting Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, you know 2016 has gotten weird. He was referring to U.S. policy on the Iran, which combines deal-making on the nuclear issue with continued sanctions in other areas. Iran’s big question for 2017: Which hand will Trump extend first?
6. British Prime Minister Theresa May: “Brexit means Brexit.” This bold tautology arguably won May the leadership of the government, since, in the immediate wake of the unexpected Brexit vote, it clarified that she would lead a government devoted to leaving the European Union. The trick, as we have all learned since, is that what actually leaving the EU entails is very much up for grabs. Sooner or later she’ll have to explain what else Brexit means.
5. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro: “The National Assembly has been transformed into a bastion of evil and bitterness, it is useless to the interests of our country and our people.” Maduro has all but gone to war with the opposition in Venezuela, who took over the legislature late last year. Maduro is arguably winning, having resisted efforts to force him out of office, but, with riots breaking out, average Venezuelans are definitely losing.
4. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “I’m not the king, I’m only the president.” In the wake of Turkey’s coup, Erdogan has insisted that he is only following the will of the people. But he is hard at work enhancing his executive powers. This year, the president. Next year…
3. Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Is it really important who did this?" Putin’s claim that he doesn’t care who hacked the DNC is probably your best reason to care.
2. President Barack Obama: “The 20th century was a bloodbath.” Obama’s point was that nationalism was bad in the run-up to World Wars I and II. But the 21st century is no peach, either.
1. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump: “I alone can fix it.” Here’s hoping.
This article has been adapted from Matt Peterson’s weekly newsletter for Eurasia Group, Signal.