PARIS, France, Jan 22 – Senior Greek judge Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou will join a small group of women leading European Union countries when she is confirmed as president Wednesday.
Once her nomination is approved by parliament, Sakellaropoulou, 63, will be the first woman in Greece to hold the largely ceremonial post.
Here are the EU’s other sitting women leaders, excluding queens.
– Merkel ‘most powerful’ –
Angela Merkel became Germany’s first woman chancellor when she was elected in 2005 and has led Europe’s biggest economy ever since, winning a fourth four-year term in March 2018.
She was, however, weakened in legislative elections in 2017 when her conservative CDU/CSU bloc registered a historically low score. It took five months to form a coalition government.
Merkel, 65, has been named “the world’s most powerful woman” several times by Forbes magazine. She will step down in 2021.
– Series of firsts –
– BELGIUM: King Philippe in October 2019 chose 44-year-old francophone liberal Sophie Wilmes as interim prime minister, the first woman to hold the post.
The linguistically-divided kingdom does not, however, have a fully functioning government. The last coalition collapsed in December 2018 and negotiations on a new executive have stalled.
– CROATIA: Conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, 51, was elected president in January 2015, the first woman in Croatia to hold the largely ceremonial position.
But she hands over on February 18 to social democrat Zoran Milanovic, who won January elections.
– ESTONIA: Former EU auditor Kersti Kaljulaid, 50, became in October 2016 the first female president of the Baltic state, elected by parliament to the largely ceremonial role.
– SLOVAKIA: Liberal lawyer and anti-graft campaigner Zuzana Caputova, 46, took office in June 2019 as Slovakia’s first woman president. A political novice, she had comfortably beaten the ruling party’s candidate in March elections.
– Youngest –
– DENMARK: Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen became prime minister in June 2019 after general elections. At 41, she was the youngest prime minister in the history of the country.
Denmark’s first woman prime minister was Helle Thorning-Schmidt, also from the Social Democrats, who served from 2011 to 2015.
– FINLAND: Social Democrat Sanna Marin in December 2019 became, at the age of 34, the youngest sitting prime minister in the world — at least until January 2020. That was when Austria’s Sebastian Kurz was sworn in at the age of 33 for a second term as head of government.
Marin is Finland’s third female prime minister.
– Wider Europe –
Elsewhere in Europe, but outside the EU, other women currently in power are: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg; Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir; Georgia President Salome Zurabishvili; and Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.