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From zero to hero to zero again


Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

What a difference a day makes. One moment you’re a nobody, the next you’re the head of a German state, the next you’re a disgraced nobody. That was how it went for Thomas Kemmerich, who resigned as premier of Thuringia following backlash over his controversial election. He’d been in office for a grand total of 24-and-a-half hours, and denied having made a mistake when he accepted votes from the far right Alternative for Germany to help him get the job.

But Kemmerich is hardly alone when it comes to super short stints in power. Last month, Heather Anderson was sworn in as an MEP for the Scottish National Party, just four days before the U.K. left the EU. Alas, she wasn’t eligible for any payoff or pension for her almost-a-week stint, which seems rather mean for an EU that usually isn’t shy about splashing the cash.

However, the undisputed king (although we aren’t dealing with actual kings and queens, or else we’d be here all week) of the short political reign was Pedro Lascuráin, who was president of Mexico for less than an hour on February 19, 1913. He was chosen to act as a bridge between Francisco Madero, who was overthrown in a coup, and Victoriano Huerta, who did the overthrowing.

That meant Lascuráin was president for around 45 minutes before handing over the presidency, just enough time to write his full name — Pedro José Domingo de la Calzada Manuel María Lascuráin Paredes — on a few official documents.

Latin Americans are good at this kind of thing — in 2001, Argentina had five presidents in the space of just 10 days — and so are Australians (Frank Forde was prime minister for a whopping eight days in 1983).

In Europe, politicians tend to spend a reasonable amount of time in power (unless you count Joseph Goebbels, who was chancellor of Germany for just a day. And while we’re in wartime, Arthur Seyss-Inquart was chancellor of Austria for two days). There are other exceptions of course, especially in Italy, where some political careers can be measured in hours. In 1954, for example, the government led by Amintore Fanfani lasted a grand total of 12 days. Fanfani returned for his sixth and final stint as prime minister in 1987, this time lasting 11 days. In 1972, Signor Andreotti’s first Italian government lasted just nine days.

CAPTION COMPETITION

“Hands up if you voted for Leo Varadkar”

Can you do better? Email pdallison@politico.eu or on Twitter @pdallison74

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our post bag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“Do you think we could take the red bits out and turn this into a Scottish one” by Richard Ivens

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.



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