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A supreme leader or supreme ruler typically refers to the person among a number of leaders of a state, organization or other such group who has been given or is able to exercise the most – or complete – authority over it. In a religion, this role is usually satisfied by a person deemed to be the representative or manifestation of a god or gods on Earth. In politics, a supreme leader usually has a cult of personality associated with them, such as below:
- Adolf Hitler (Führer) in Germany
- Benito Mussolini (Duce) in Italy
- Joseph Stalin (Vozhd, Вождь) in the Soviet Union
- Supreme leader of North Korea (Choeko jitoja, 최고 지도자)
- Paramount leader of China (Chinese: 最高领导人; pinyin: Zuìgāo Lǐngdǎorén)
- Supreme leader of Iran (رهبر معظم, rahbar-e mo'azzam)
List of titles
Listed by date of establishment.
1920s and earlier
- Benito Mussolini, dictator of Fascist Italy from 1922 to 1943, was known as Duce ("The Leader").
- Adolf Hitler, dictator of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, was known as Führer ("The Leader").
- Emperor Hirohito, emperor of Imperial Japan from 1926 to 1947 and of State of Japan from 1947 to 1989.
- Antanas Smetona, the authoritarian president of Lithuania, adopted the title of Tautos Vadas ("Leader of the Nation").
- Karlis Ulmanis, the authoritarian president of Latvia, adopted the title of Tautas Vadonis ("Leader of People") and Nācijas Tēvs ("Father of the Nation").
- Getúlio Vargas, dictator of Brazil, named in his era since 1930 as "Supreme Leader of Revolution".
- Francisco Franco, dictator of Francoist Spain, assumed the title Caudillo, originally an honorary title for an army leader.
- Ioannis Metaxas, Greek dictator during the 4th of August Regime from 1936 until his death in 1941, assumed the title of Αρχηγός (Archigós, IPA: [arçiˈɣos]) meaning "The Leader".
- Chiang Kai-shek, de facto leader of Kuomintang Republic of China, was sometimes referred as 領袖 (translit. lingxiu - "The Leader")
- Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, decreed that he was to be officially designated as Вождь (translit. Vožd - "Chief", "Leader") from his fiftieth birthday in 1929.
- Rafael Trujillo, Dominican dictator from 1930 to 1961, assumed the nickname of "El Jefe" ("The Boss").
- Birger Furugård, leader of the Swedish National Socialist Party had the title of Riksledaren ("Leader of the Realm").
- Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian revolutionary in the Indian independence movement, was known as Netaji ("Respected Leader").
- Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg, austrofascist leaders of Austria from 1933 to 1938, were referred to as Bundesführer ("Federal Leader") as heads of the Patriotic Front.
World War II
- Ante Pavelić, as dictator of the Independent State of Croatia, named himself Poglavnik ("The Leader").
- Ferenc Szálasi, as dictator of the Hungarian State, named himself Nemzetvezető ("Leader of the Nation").
- Josef Tiso, President of the First Slovak Republic, named himself Vodca ("The Leader") in 1942.
- Ion Antonescu, as Prime Minister of Romania during most of World War II, named himself Conducător ("The Leader").
- Vidkun Quisling, leader of Nasjonal Samling and from 1942 Minister-President of the nominal Quisling regime, named himself Fører ("Leader").
- Frits Clausen, leader of the National Socialist Workers' Party of Denmark, had the title of Fører ("Driver").
- Anton Mussert, leader of the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands, was allowed to use the title Leider van het Nederlandsche Volk ("Leader of the Dutch people") by the Germans in 1942.
- Léon Degrelle, leader of the Rexist Party, was named Chef-du-People-Wallon ("Leader of the Walloon people") in December 1944.
- Jef van de Wiele, leader of the DeVlag party, was named Landsleider van het Vlaamsche Volk ("National Leader of the Flemish people") in December 1944.
- Staf de Clercq, co-founder and leader of the Flemish nationalist Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, was referred to as den Leider by his followers.
- Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, was known as "The Leader".
Cold War era
- Mao Zedong, the first Chairman of the Communist Party of China, officially named 伟大领袖毛主席 (translit. Wěidà Lǐngxiù Zhǔxí - "Great Leader Chairman").
- Deng Xiaoping, the supreme leader of the People's Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China, officially named "The chief architect of China's reform opening and modernization drive".
- Kim Il Sung, the first head of state of North Korea, is officially referred to by the North Korean government as 위대한 수령 (translit. widaehan suryŏng - "Great Leader").
- Ho Chi Minh, the only one Chairman of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
- Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of independent Pakistan was named as Quaid-i-Millat ("Father of the Nation") and Shaheed-i-Millat ("Martyr of Nation").
- Sukarno, the president of post-revolution Indonesia was known as the Pemimpin Besar Revolusi (Great Leader of the Revolution) and Bung Karno ("Comrade Karno").
- François Duvalier, the president-dictator of Haiti, obtained from the pocket parliament "Supreme Leader of Revolution" amongst other titles.
- Ferdinand Marcos, the president-dictator of the Philippines, sometimes named as Pinuno ng Bansa "Leader of Nation".
- Fidel Castro, the communist ex-president of Cuba was known as the Máximo Líder ("Greatest Leader").
- Enver Hoxha, the communist president of Albania was named as "The Leader", "Supreme Comrade", "Sole Force", "Great Teacher".
- Nicolae Ceaușescu, the communist leader of Romania from 1965 to 1989, also adopted the title Conducător.
- Mobutu Sese Seko, the president-dictator of Zaire, sometimes named as "Father of People" and "Saver of Nation".
- Alfredo Stroessner, the dictatorial president of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989, was eulogized as Gran Líder and Único Líder.
- Abd al-Karim Qasim, Prime Minister of Iraq from 1958 to 1963, named as al-za‘īm ("The Leader").
- Saddam Hussein, the president-dictator of Iraq from 1979 to 2003, named as "The Leader".
- Muammar Gaddafi, the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya from 1979 to 2011.
- Omar Torrijos, de facto dictator of Panama from 1968 to 1981, assumed the title Líder Máximo de la Revolución Panameña ("Supreme Leader of the Panamanian Revolution").
- Dési Bouterse, de facto leader of Suriname during 1980 military rule
- The Supreme Leader of Iran, the highest-ranking political and religious authority in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The first person to hold this title was the Ayatollah Khomeini
- Pol Pot was the dictator of Kampuchea
Post–Cold War era
- Hugo Chávez, former President of Venezuela, was called El Comandante (The Commander) by some people during his reign.
- Xi Jinping, current General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, has been officially recognized as lingxiu, a reverential term for "leader", by the Party Politburo.
- Kim Jong-Il, former General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, is officially referred to by the North Korean government as 친애하는 지도자 (translit. ch'inaehanŭn chidoja - "Honorable Leader") and "The Leader" (his father Kim Il Sung after death stayed as "Great Leader").[verification needed]
- Kim Jong-Un, current Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, was made "Supreme Guide" after his father Kim Jong-Il died in 2011.
- Ali Khamenei, current Supreme Leader of Iran since 4 June 1989.
- Nursultan Nazarbayev, since 1991 the Chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan, and first President of Kazakhstan, was granted the title Елбасы (translit. Elbasy - "Leader of the Nation") by a parliamentary decision in 2010.
- Saparmurat Niyazov, president of Turkmenistan in 1990—2006, was referred by his self-given titles Serdar (“Leader”) and Türkmenbaşy (“Head of the Turkmens”). His successor Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow carries the title Arkadag (“Protector”, “Patron”).
- Nawaz Sharif, ex-prime minister of Pakistan, was made the Supreme Leader of his political party PML-N after the Pakistan Supreme Court ruled that as he was disqualified under the constitution for dishonesty, he can no longer serve as the head of a political party.
- William C. Kirby (ed.), Realms of Freedom in Modern China, p. 121
- Tertitskiy, Fyodor (19 January 2015). "Leader, Sun, Mentor, Guide: How North Korean leaders choose their titles". NK*News. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
- Mydans, Seth (17 April 1998). "Death of Pol Pot; Pol Pot, Brutal Dictator Who Forced Cambodians to Killing Fields, Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
- Carroll, Rory (2013). Commandante: myth and reality in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela. New York: The Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-457-9.
- "Why China is reviving Mao's grandiose title for Xi Jinping". South China Morning Post. 2017-10-28. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
- "Xi Jinping is no longer any old leader". The Economist. 2018-02-17. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
- Walker, Shaun (2015-04-24). "Kazakhstan election avoids question of Nazarbayev successor". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-09-08.
- Cummings, Sally N. (2010). Symbolism and Power in Central Asia: Politics of the Spectacular. Milton, United Kingdom: Routledge. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-0415575676.
- Walker, Shaun (2015-05-25). "A horse, a horse… Turkmenistan president honours himself with statue". The Guardian.
- Bhatti, Haseeb (2018-02-21). "Nawaz Sharif removed as PML-N head after SC rules disqualified person cannot lead a party". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2018-03-01.