These 10 people got ‘world leader’ status younger than you’d thought was possible – here’s how
Macron's the youngest leader France has had since Napoleon. And who knew you could be 'Supreme Leader' by 27?
You'd think becoming the leader of a country would be a pretty big investment – getting the right qualifications, doing the right jobs, meeting the right people. But some seem to have zoomed their way to the top without any of that.
At the age of 39, Emmanuel Macron will be the youngest French Prime Minister ever. He will also be the youngest leader of an EU country, and one of the youngest democratically elected leaders in the world. So who else has led a country at such a young age – and what does it take to rise to the top so fast?
1. William Pitt the Younger (24) – Youngest Prime Minister of the UK, 1783-1801, 1804-1806
Young William came from a political family. His father, William Pitt the Elder, and his uncle, George Grenville, both served as prime minister before him. It appears that to be elected PM at 24, it helps to be rich, well educated, and have a lot of political connections. Plus, you’ve got the time pressure of the fact that life expectancy was only 39 years at the time to incentivize you to work hard, fast.
2. Theodore Roosevelt (42) - Youngest President of the United States, 1901-1909
You’ve got to take risks if you’re going to lead young. No-one knew this better than Teddy Roosevelt. He fought in the Spanish-American War and was selected as vice-president after the death of Garrett Hobart. When William McKinley was assassinated, he became President. The lesson? Make yourself the Number 2 and hope the Number 1 gets taken care of... then again, what goes around comes around: Roosevelt was shot in the chest himself in 1912.
3. Chris Watson (37) – Youngest Prime Minister of Australia, 1904 – 1908
Chris Watson was the third Prime Minister of Australia. He was one of the youngest, and also one of the shortest serving. He led the world’s first Labor government, but resigned after 4 months because he didn’t have enough support. Seems like the key here is breaking boundaries if you want to succeed early on – just be aware that people might not like you too much.
4. Joe Clark (39) – Youngest Prime Minister of Canada, 1979-1980
Justin Trudeau may be the best looking Canadian PM, but he isn’t the youngest. Joe Clark beat him to that honor by four years, winning against Justin’s father in 1979. He’s known for pushing basic income and decriminalizing marijuana – neither of which actually happened, but both of which are being considered by the current government.
5. Rajiv Gandhi (40) – Youngest Prime Minister of India, 1984-1989
Powerful children of powerful parents is definitely a trend in the young leader category. Rajiv became the PM of India mere hours after his mother Indira’s assassination. As a young man he hadn’t even shown much interest in politics – he worked as a pilot before becoming a member of Parliament.
6. Felipe Calderon (44) – Youngest President of Mexico 2006-2012
Calderon’s father founded the political party he ended up rising to power through – the National Action Party – another case of powerful parents being the ticket to the throne. He was youth leader in his early 20s, and elected president later on. He’s best known for cracking down on drug cartels in Mexico.
7. Dmitry Medvedev (43) – Youngest President of Russia 2008-2012
Medvedev was a law professor in St. Petersburg who didn’t become active in politics until his good friend Vladimir became the president of Russia. At that point he became a chief political advisor and has traded presidential and PM positions off and on with Putin. Powerful friends seem to do the job almost as well as powerful parents…
8. Kim Jong-Un (27) - Supreme Leader of North Korea 2011 - Present
Kim Jong-Un wasn't elected, and he doesn't have term limits, but he is the second youngest currently serving head of state. He wasn’t necessarily the best qualified – but he was born into the right family. Looks like having a Supreme Leader for a dad is a prime asset in the labor market of the young and powerful.
9. Matteo Renzi (39) – Youngest Prime Minister of Italy, 2014-2016
Two pretty failsafe qualities for a young leader: money, and popularity. Matteo Renzi, youngest PM in Italy, is known as the ‘scrapper’ for his reforms of the Italian government. What not many people know is that he took part in 5 episodes of La Ruota Della Fortuna – a local version of Wheel of Fortune – when was 19, and won 48 million lira (around $27,000.) Plus, he worked as mayor of Florence from 2009 to 2014, which got him a lot of local support.
10. Alexis Tsipras (41) – Youngest Prime Minister of Greece 2015 – present
Tsipras came to power in Greece largely in response to the debt crisis the country was facing at the time of his election. He was part of the Communist Party when he was younger, and led the country in a “No” vote against EU austerity measures. Looks like his ticket to power was saying something radical at a time when people wanted to hear it – got to know your market, it seems.