Aug 11, 2020 - World

The world's longest-serving leaders

Data: Axios Research; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: Axios Research; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko's grip on power is being tested like never before in his 26-year tenure, with clashes across the country following Sunday's sham election.

The big picture: Lukashenko has weathered more storms than most. Just nine leaders who were in power when he was elected in 1994 — during Bill Clinton's first term — are still in office.

The longest-serving leaders all represent countries considered “not free” by Freedom House. They're also all men.

  • Germany's Angela Merkel is the longest-serving leader of a “free” country and the longest-serving woman, after 14 years in power.
  • Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika all dropped off the "longest-serving" list last year.
  • Meanwhile, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Syria's Bashar al-Assad have recently marked two decades in power.
  • What to watch: Uganda's Yoweri Museveni faces an election early next year that will be competitive — if he allows it to be.

Worth noting:

  • We're only counting a leader's current tenure in their country's highest office (with a slight exception for Putin), and we left off monarchs like Queen Elizabeth II who aren't top political decision-makers.
  • We also left off countries with populations under 1 million.

Go deeper: Belarus protests turn deadly

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