World Leaders With Embarrassingly Short Reigns

The baton of the leadership of a country is usually passed on to another with the hope that their reign will be successful. Depending on the constitution of the country a leader may remain in office for varying lengths of time. One thing is for sure, mere hours, weeks or months certainly isn’t sufficient time. Such short stints have been the case for some world leaders. The shortest-lived leaders in history have suffered through coups, assassinations, abdications and sickness. Here are some leaders who had short reigns.

1. Pedro Lascurain

Pedro Lascurain, who presided over Mexico on February 19, 1913, for less than an hour, held the record for the shortest tenure as president. President Francisco Ignacio Maderno and his vice president, Jose Maria Pino Suarez, were both removed from office. This was through the working of a coup. Lascurain, who had served as the foreign minister, was compelled to assume the presidency as a result. His sole action as president of Mexico was to designate the coup’s architect, General Victoriano Huerta, as minister of foreign affairs so that, upon his resignation, Huerta would take over as president. Lascaurain also retired from politics and returned to his previous career as a lawyer.

2. Frank Forde

The record for the shortest-serving prime minister in Australian history belongs to Frank Forde. John Curtin, the prime minister of Australia passed away on July 5, 1945 so Forde, who was the deputy prime minister, assumed office of the prime minister on July 6, 1945. His time in office lasted only a week. At the time, Forde was in a caretaker capacity meaning that it was temporary until a leader could be formally elected. The election was held eight days later. Although Forde threw his hat in the ring, he was not elected. 

3. Carlos Luz

Carlos Coimbra da Luz was a Brazilian politician who served as president for just three days. After President Getulio Vargas passed away in 1954, three persons held his former position in a matter of sixteen months. Getulio’s immediate successor, João Café Filho took office. However, when Filho grew ill in 1955, Luz, the head of the Chamber of Deputies, became the head of state. Nereu Ramos, the vice president, took his seat on Henrique Teixeira’s orders. At the time, Teixeira was the Minister of Defense with the authority to make that decision.

4. Siaka Stevens

On March 21, 1967, Siaka Stevens was elected the prime minister of Sierra Leone; however, his success was short-lived. Stevens had defeated the incumbent prime minister in a tightly fought election and those in authority were not in agreement with this. Before Stevens took the oath of office, they dispatched the military to arrest him. While the incumbent prime minister and his men were trying to execute their plan, Stevens was sworn in. They successfully overthrew Stevens just hours after he assumed the position and Stevens was arrested. Stevens orchestrated an uprising, and then took office again the following year for a highly productive second term.

5. William Henry Harrison

In 1814, William Henry Harrison, an American military leader and politician, became the ninth president of the United States. He was sixty-eight-years old and was the oldest President to be elected at the time. President Harrison delivered the longest inaugural speech in U.S history and had the shortest stint as president of the United States when he passed away on his thirty-second day in office. His wife never got an opportunity to get into the White House.

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