How long can a leader last?

26 March 2015 08:54
Well, in politics at least, it seems 10 years.

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has said that he won't stand for a third term if he is re-elected in 40 days time.

This has caused some consternation in the UK, with many people saying that he is now a "lame duck".

In politics, there is much evidence of what I call the "10 year itch". After 10 years in the top political posts, strange things seem to start happening to leaders.

In the United States, they don't even let their Presidents reach 10 years - they have a maximum tenure of 8 years.

In Australia, there has only been 1 Prime Minister who has notched up more than 9 years, and that's John Howard with an 11 year tenure. He was unceremoniously dumped in 2007 by both the country and his electorate, the electorate which he had represented for 43 years.
In the United Kingdom, since the official creation of the role of Prime Minister in 1905*, there have only ever been 2 Prime Minsters to have reached their decennial anniversary - Margaret Thatcher at 11 years and Tony Blair at 10 years. Even both of Winston Churchill's stints as Prime Minister only add up to 9 years.

In Germany, Angela Merkel has only just notched up 9 years as Chancellor.

Other current government leaders that immediately spring to mind who currently have tenures longer than 10 years tend to come from non-democratic countries.
Change at the top is a necessary purge for governments, and businesses, to keep growing their economies, and market share, or make the institute fit for the current global climate.
So why all the fuss about David Cameron saying that he won't lead the UK for more than 10 years. Well, maybe some things are best left unsaid.

By Christopher Brooks, Leadership Director, First Train.
*In the UK, Prior to 1905, the leader of the country was officially known as First Lord of the Treasury. The term Prime Minster was first used internally in the House of Commons in 1805, and was in parliamentary use by the 1980's. It was introduced into the Order of Precedence in 1905. There has been 5 leaders of the UK prior to 1905 who had tenures spanning more than 10 years. They were: Robert Walpole, 1721 - 1742 (longest serving to date); Henry Pelham, 1743 - 1754; Frederick North, 1770 - 1782; William Pitt, 1783 - 1801; and Robert Banks Jenkinson, 1812 - 1827.

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