4. Brian Cowen, Taoiseach, Ireland (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo)

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Annual salary: $342,400

Ireland's Taoiseach, the country's head of government, is the highest-paid politician in all of Europe. And while Brian Cowen has only held office since 2008, his salary has already become a lightning rod in Irish politics. During his first year as Taoiseach, Cowen denounced business leaders taking huge pay increases during the outset of the country's financial meltdown. It was then, of course, that Cowen became eligible for a $50,600 per year raise of his own — a pay hike he took in stride. The Taoiseach's opposition fumed over the fact that Cowen earns more than seven times what the average Irish family does per year.

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