Newsweek magazine has defended its choice of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen as one of their top ten politicians worldwide after widespread scepticism in Ireland where the government and its leader are  deeply unpopular.

Spokewoman Jan Angilella told the Sunday Tribune that Cowen was well respected abroad if not at home

She said that the article 'Go to the top of the class', which put  Cowen in the company of  leaders such as China's Wen Jiabao and France's Nicolas Sarkozy, "isn't a comprehensive profile of each leader".

"We looked at leaders worldwide who are facing tough economic and political environments, many of whom are making unpopular decisions, both fiscally and socially. While many of the measures that world leaders are taking right now are indeed controversial, some countries seem better poised to bounce back in the long run, and Ireland qualified for that criteria.

"We noted in the piece, running a country is a thankless job and Cowen is unpopular at home. However, abroad, his fiscal measures seem to have won some respect, and Ireland may be starting to see the glimmers of a turnaround – consumer confidence is rising, the economy is showing signs of modest growth."

Newsweek's article said that despite Ireland's economy being "staggered by the banking crisis", Cowen and "his able finance minister Brian Lenihan are prescribing harsh medicine.

"They've pushed through austerity packages drastic enough to win the admiration of the international community… but the Irish aren't showing much gratitude – Cowen's ratings have plunged to a mere 18%, and his Fianna Fáil party can expect a drubbing in the 2012 national elections. Still, there's some hope that his government's unpopular measures will be rewarded in the long run: surveys suggest that Irish consumer confidence is on the rise again, and the economy notched up modest growth in the first quarter of 2010."

Former Prime Minister Brian Cowen - "Don't blame me - I was only the Taoiseach."Google Images