Politics |Emerging

Resurrection of the old as former leaders return for more glory

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Malaysia’s former leader, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, celebrated his 92nd birthday on July 10, 2017. Dr Mahathir held the record for serving as prime minister – 22 years, from 1981 to 2003. However he is not enjoying a peaceful retirement: as the BBC reports, he hopes to return to the national stage, and has been put forward as a candidate for elections to be held in 2018.

Meanwhile in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, famous for his media empires and “bunga-bunga” parties, wants to stand in the general election in March. The Guardian newspaper notes that Berlusconi, 81, was encouraged after his new right-wing party did well in elections in Sicily last year. Although he needs a court decision to overturn a previous ban on his candidacy, Berlusconi is eager to compete and is prominent in his Forza Italia campaign (Financial Times).

These veterans make the 2016 presidential contest between Hillary Clinton (born 1947) and Donald Trump (born 1946) look like a contest of youth. However, the average age of accession to the U.S. presidency is around 55.

Admittedly, at the other end of the hourglass there are Sebastian Kurz of Austria (31), Emmanuel Macron of France (just 40) and Leo Varadkar of Ireland (38).

It is perhaps true that age does not mean what it once did in politics.

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Consulting editor with WikiTribune. Previous career mostly in print media, news and feature writer, commissioning editor, copy editor, trainer and teacher. 25+ years in leading European/British media, BBC, FT, Sunday Times, Irish Times, including five years on latter's foreign desk. Launch team, Open Government Partnership, Dublin 2013. Teach digital media ethics and journalism practice.

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