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How Daley Stacks Up Against the World's Autocrats

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How Daley Stacks Up Against the World's Autocrats

Ward Room is all about Chicago politics, but even we’ve been following the demonstrations in Egypt.

We were surprised to learn that one of the protestors’ grievances is that President Hosni Mubarak has been in office nearly 30 years --- surprised because we didn’t think any world leader, anywhere, has held power longer than our mayor, Richard M. Daley.

As it turns out, Mayor Daley is not even in the Top 10 of leaders who’ve clung to power for too long. He’s only number 11.

Here, then, is where Daley ranks among the world’s longest-serving autocrats.

1. Muammar al-Gaddafi, Leader and Guide of the Revolution, Libya  September 1, 1969
2. Paul Biya, President, Cameroon                                                             June 30, 1975
3. Ali Abdullah Saleh, President, Yemen                                                    July 18, 1978
4. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President, Equatorial Guinea August 3, 1979
5. José Eduardo dos Santos, President, Angola                                      September 10, 1979
6. Robert Mugabe, President, Zimbabwe                                                   April 18, 1980
7. Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader, Iran                                                     October 2, 1981
8. Hosni Mubarak, President, Egypt                                                            October 7, 1981
9. Yoweri Museveni, President, Uganda                                                    January 26, 1986
10. Blaise Compaoré, President, Burkina Faso                                      October 15, 1987
11. Richard M. Daley, Mayor, Chicago                                                        April 24, 1989

That’s not a bad showing. Daley has been in control of the Chicago Machine longer than the leaders of such Third World kleptocracies as Sudan, Tajikistan, North Korea, Burma, Cambodia and Congo-Brazzaville. He’s even more popular than the longest-serving democratically-elected leader on the list. In 2005, Paul Biya of Cameroon was re-elected with 70 percent of the vote. In 2007, Mayor Daley was re-elected with 72 percent of the vote.

Emanuel is an ambitious guy. He’s only 51, and he keeps himself in great shape by swimming and competing in triathlons. Someday, he could beat Daley’s showing by making it into the Top 10. To the health of our new leader!

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