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President for Life

From Academic Kids

President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to ensure that their authority, legitimacy, and term is never questioned or disputed.

The first well-known incident of a leader extending his term indefinitely was Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who made himself "Perpetual Dictator" (commonly mistranslated as 'Dictator-for-life') in 45 BC. His actions would later be mimicked by the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte who was appointed "First Consul for life" in 1802. Since then, many dictators have adopted similar titles.

Ironically, 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 although some, such as François Duvalier and Josip Broz Tito, have managed to run out the clock. The only current president for life, Saparmyrat Nyyazow, announced he could step down by 2010.

Some very long-serving authoritarian presidents, such as Fidel Castro, who are frequently thought of as examples of Presidents for Life, actually undergo periodic renewal of mandate but these are largely regarded as show elections. Ferdinand Marcos also fell into this category.

List of Leaders who became President for Life (with date of proclamation)

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