At 81 years old and once again in the running for the head of the White House, Joe Biden has fueled the debate about the ages of global leaders. In the shadow of accusations of ageism —prejudice related to age—, critics of the Democrat’s candidacy are multiplying in the United States, claiming that he no longer has the stamina for the position.
One of the fears of these detractors is that, if Biden is returned to office, at some point in his second term the country may have to activate the 25th amendment to the Constitution. This provides, among others, that the vice-president becomes interim leader in the event of the death or incapacity (cognitive or physical, for example) of the president.
Biden is currently the oldest leader in the Americas. Among global heads of government, the age range is around 50 to 60 years old, with an average age of 61.7. Brazilian President Lula (PT) is above this average: at 78 years old, he is the 15th oldest leader in the world — the second in the Americas and the oldest in Latin America.
To carry out this survey, the report used a database produced by the American institute Pew Research Center and updated it until the date of publication of this text. The survey includes 188 countries and left out some, such as Afghanistan and Burkina Faso, due to the inconsistency of the information available regarding their respective leaders.
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In general, the oldest leaders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. This is for a reason: it is also in these regions that some of the main authoritarian regimes are concentrated, in which there is low or no power turnover. Its leaders tend, therefore, to have been in their positions uninterruptedly for many years.
To classify political regimes, the Freedom House database, another American institute, was used. The entity divides countries into “free”, “partially free” and “not free” based on indicators of political rights (such as free and plural elections) and civil liberties (such as freedom of expression and press).