President for life

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President for life is a title assumed by or granted to some leaders to remove their term limit irrevocably as a way of removing future challenges to their authority and legitimacy. The title sometimes confers on the holder the right to nominate or appoint a successor. The usage of the title of "president for life" rather than a traditionally autocratic title, such as that of a monarch, implies the subversion of liberal democracy by the titleholder (although republics need not be democratic per se ). Indeed, sometimes a president for life can proceed to establish a self-proclaimed monarchy, such as Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe in Haiti.

A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either veneration, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the first and last name. Some titles are hereditary.

A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms an officeholder may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method of curbing the potential for monopoly, where a leader effectively becomes "president for life". This is intended to protect a democracy from becoming a de facto dictatorship. Sometimes, there is an absolute or lifetime limit on the number of terms an officeholder may serve; sometimes, the restrictions are merely on the number of consecutive terms he or she may serve.

Authority is the right to exercise power, which can be formalized by a state and exercised by way of judges, appointed executives of government, or the ecclesiastical or priestly appointed representatives of a God or other deities.

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Similarity to a monarch

A president for life may be regarded as a de facto monarch. In fact, other than the title, political scientists often face difficulties in differentiating a state ruled by a president for life (especially one who inherits the job from a family dictatorship) and a monarchy. In his proposed plan for government at the United States Constitutional Convention Alexander Hamilton proposed that the chief executive be a governor elected to serve for good behavior, acknowledging that such an arrangement might be seen as an elective monarchy. It was for that very reason that the proposal was rejected.

A monarch is a sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.

A hereditary dictatorship, or family dictatorship, in political science terms a personalistic regime, is a form of dictatorship that occurs in a nominally or formally republican or socialist regime, but operates in practice like an absolute monarchy or despotate, in that political power passes within the dictator's family. Thus, although the key leader is often called president or prime minister rather than a king or emperor, power is transmitted between members of the same family due to the overwhelming authority of the leader. Sometimes the leader has been declared president for life and uses this power to nominate one of his or her family as successor.

Monarchy system of government where the head of state position is inherited within family

A monarchy is a form of government in which a single person holds supreme authority in ruling a country, also performing ceremonial duties and embodying the country's national identity. Although some monarchs are elected, in most cases, the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In these cases, the royal family or members of the dynasty usually serve in official capacities as well. The governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic, to partial and restricted, to completely autocratic.

Most leaders who have proclaimed themselves president for life have not in fact gone on to successfully serve a life term. Most have been deposed long before their death while others truly fulfill their title by being assassinated while in office. However, some have managed to rule until their (natural) deaths, including as José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia of Paraguay, Alexandre Pétion of Haiti, Rafael Carrera of Guatemala, François Duvalier of Haiti, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia and Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan. Others made unsuccessful attempts to have themselves named president for life, such as Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972. [1]

Assassination murder of a prominent person, often a political leader or ruler

Assassination is the act of killing a prominent person for either political, religious or monetary reasons.

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia Supreme Dictator of Paraguay

José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco was a Paraguayan lawyer and politician, and the first dictator (1814–1840) of Paraguay following its independence from the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. His official title was "Supreme and Perpetual Dictator of Paraguay", but he was popularly known as El Supremo.

Alexandre Pétion 1st President of the Republic of Haiti

Alexandre Sabès Pétion was the first President of the Republic of Haiti from 1807 until his death in 1818. He is one of Haiti's founding fathers, together with Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.

Some very long-serving authoritarian presidents, such as Mobutu, North Korea's Kim Il-sung, Bulgaria's Todor Zhivkov, Romania's Nicolae Ceaușescu, Syria's Hafez al-Assad, Indonesia's Suharto, the Republic of China's Chiang Kai-shek and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, are frequently thought of as examples of Presidents for Life. However, they underwent periodic renewals of mandate that were usually show elections. Official results showed the president receiving implausibly high support (in some cases, unanimous support).

North Korea Sovereign state in East Asia

North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang the capital and the largest city in the country. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok and Tumen rivers and to the south it is bordered by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands.

Kim Il-sung President of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea

Kim Il-sung was the first leader of North Korea which he ruled from the country's establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Premier from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to 1994. He was also the leader of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) from 1949 to 1994. Coming to power after the end of Japanese rule in 1945, he authorized the invasion of South Korea in 1950, triggering an intervention in defense of South Korea by the United Nations led by the United States. Following the military stalemate in the Korean War, a ceasefire was signed on 27 July 1953. He was the third longest-serving non-royal head of state/government in the 20th century, in office for more than 45 years.

Bulgaria country in Southeast Europe

Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The capital and largest city is Sofia; other major cities are Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), Bulgaria is Europe's 16th-largest country.

Most notable

Julius Caesar

One of the most well-known incidents of a republican leader extending his term indefinitely was Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who made himself "Perpetual Dictator" in 45 BC. Traditionally, the office of dictator could only be held for six months, and although he was not the first Roman dictator to be given the office with no term limit, it was Caesar's dictatorship that inspired the string of Roman emperors who ruled after his assassination.

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants ) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

Julius Caesar 1st-century BC Roman politician and general

Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, military general, and historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He also wrote Latin prose.

Roman dictator An emergency magistrate of the Roman Republic, whose actions are not subject to a veto

A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, and the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was extremely limited. However, in order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers: a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority; and he was obliged to resign his office once his appointed task had been accomplished, or at the expiration of six months. Dictators were frequently appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy then went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a significantly modified form, first by Sulla, and then by Julius Caesar. The office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, and not revived under the Empire.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Caesar's actions would later be copied by the French Consul Napoleon Bonaparte, who was appointed "First Consul for life" in 1802 before elevating himself to the rank of Emperor two years later. Since then, many dictators have adopted similar titles, either on their own authority or having it granted to them by rubber stamp legislatures.

French Consulate former government of France

The Consulate was the top-level Government of France from the fall of the Directory in the coup of Brumaire on 10 November 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire on 18 May 1804. By extension, the term The Consulate also refers to this period of French history.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader of Italian descent who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Emperor of the French title used by the House of Bonaparte

Emperor of the French was the monarch of the First French Empire and the Second French Empire.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg in January. On Hindenburg's death the German Reichstag voted to (unconstitutionally) merge the offices of President and Chancellor, giving Hitler the title of Führer. Later the Reichstag voted to allow Hitler to hold the positions of Chancellor and Führer for life.

North Korea

After Kim Il-sung's death in 1994, the North Korean government wrote the presidential office out of the constitution, declaring him "Eternal President" in 1998 in order to honor his memory forever. Since there can be no succession in a system where the President reigns over a nation beyond death, the powers of the president are nominally and effectively split between the president of the Supreme People's Assembly, the prime minister, and the chairman of the State Affairs Commission. However, his son and grandson have been in control of the country since his death (Kim Jong-il from 1994 until his death in 2011, and Kim Jong-un since 2011).

List of leaders who became president for life

Note: the first date listed in each entry is the date of proclamation of his status as President for Life.

PortraitNameTitleTook officeLeft officeNotes
General Toussaint Louverture.jpg Toussaint Louverture Governor for Life of Saint-Domingue 18011802arrested and exiled to metropolitan France 1802, died 1803.
Henri Christophe.jpg Henri Christophe President for Life of the State of Haiti (Northern)18071811became King 1811, committed suicide in office 1820.
Portrait du president Alexandre Petion (cropped).jpg Alexandre Pétion President for Life of Haiti (Southern)18161818died in office 1818.
Dr francia.JPG José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia Perpetual Supreme Dictator of Paraguay 18161840died in office 1840.
President Jean-Pierre Boyer.jpg Jean-Pierre Boyer President for Life of Haiti18181843became President for Life immediately upon assuming the office because Alexandre Pétion's constitution provided for a life presidency for all his successors, deposed 1843, died 1850.
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.jpg Antonio López de Santa Anna President for Life of Mexico 18531855resigned 1855, died 1876.
Carrerap02.jpg Rafael Carrera President for Life of Guatemala 18541865died in office 1865.
Presiden Sukarno.jpg Sukarno Supreme Commander, Great Leader of Revolution, Mandatory of the People's Consultative Assembly, and President for Life of Indonesia 19631966appointed as President for Life according to the Ketetapan MPRS No. III/MPRS/1963, [2] stripped of title 1966, deposed 1967, died under house arrest 1970.
Tupua Tamasese Mea`ole.jpg Tupua Tamasese Meaʻole O le Ao o le Malo for Life of Samoa19621963Died in office 1963, elected to serve alongside Tanumafili II (see below). The position of O le Ao o le Malo (head of state) is ceremonial; executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister, and Samoa is a parliamentary democracy. [3]
Malietoa.jpg Malietoa Tanumafili II O le Ao o le Malo for Life of Samoa19622007Died in office 2007, elected to serve alongside Meaʻole (see above). [3]
Kwame Nkrumah (JFKWHP-AR6409-A).jpg Kwame Nkrumah President for Life of Ghana19641966deposed 1966, died in exile in Romania 1972.
Duvalier (cropped).jpg François "Papa Doc" Duvalier President for Life of Haiti19641971 died in office 1971, named his son as his successor (see below). [4]
Baby Doc (centree).jpg Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier President for Life of Haiti19711986named by his father as successor (see above), deposed 1986, died 2014.
Dr HK Banda, first president of Malawi.jpg Hastings Banda President for Life of Malawi 19711993stripped of title after 1993 referendum, defeated in 1994 general election, died 1997.
Bokassa colored.png Jean-Bédel Bokassa President for Life of the Central African Republic 19721976became Emperor 1976, deposed 1979, died 1996.
Francisco Macías Nguema President for Life of Equatorial Guinea 19721979 deposed and executed 1979.
Josip Broz Tito uniform portrait.jpg Josip Broz Tito President for Life of Yugoslavia 19741980appointed as President for Life according to the 1974 Constitution, died in office 1980.
Portrait officiel de Habib Bourguiba.png Habib Bourguiba President for Life of Tunisia 19751987 deposed 1987, died under house arrest 2000.
Idi Amin -Archives New Zealand AAWV 23583, KIRK1, 5(B), R23930288.jpg Idi Amin of Uganda President for Life of Uganda 19761979 defeated in war 1979, died in exile in Saudi Arabia 2003.
Lennox Sebe President for Life of the unrecognized state of Ciskei 19831990deposed 1990, died 1994.
Saparmurat Niyazov in 2002.jpg Saparmurat Niyazov President for Life of Turkmenistan 19992006 died in office 2006.

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References

  1. Crawford Young and Thomas Turner, The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State, p. 211
  2. "Ketetapan MPRS No. III/MPRS/1963".
  3. 1 2 "Constitution of the Independent State of Western Samoa 1960". University of the South Pacific. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  4. The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought: Abol-impe. Oxford University Press. 2010-01-01. p. 328. ISBN   9780195334739.

Further reading