Politics

Biden Isn’t the Only 80-Year-Old Running a Country

Biden was born before the invention of Velcro. But so were some other world leaders!

Biden and a bunch of other world leaders who are over 80.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images.

Read the rest of our Happy Birthday, Mr. President package.

President Joe Biden unlocked a new milestone Sunday: turning 80 years old. He is the country’s oldest commander in chief—and the only one to serve in the role during his ninth decade. America appears to have a thing for old politicians: The current 117th Congress is the oldest in at least 20 years, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are both over 70. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley joins them, just reelected to his eighth Senate term at 89 years old, while California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein is also 89. At least Nancy Pelosi just stepped down, at 82.

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It’s a bit jarring in comparison to other nations—like the United Kingdom, which just nominated its youngest prime minister in over 200 years, 42-year-old Rishi Sunak. Sunak was born in 1980—meanwhile, Biden was born before the invention of Velcro and when it only cost $455 to attend Harvard University.

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But there are still plenty of world leaders and figures that are as old or even older than Biden. We  rounded up a list of other 80-something leaders who are still at it:

Pope Francis, 85 years old
Becoming the oldest serving pope in over a century, Francis appears to still be going strong. He’s made significant changes since assuming power, including approving a 2019 law that outlined how cardinals and bishops could be investigated for sex abuse cover-up, an attempt to restore faith in the church.

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Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al Jaber Al-Sabah, 85 years old
The ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf has been in power since 2020, at the time succeeding his 83-year-old half brother. He oversees one of the Arabian peninsula’s fastest growing economies, but his health is rumored to be in severe decline.

King of Norway Harald V, 85 years old
As the youngest of three children born to Olav and Crown Princess Märtha, Harald became crown prince of Norway when he was only 20 years old. He was eventually appointed king after the death of his father in 1991, though the role is now largely ceremonial. The 85-year-old is an accomplished sailor, even participating in the Olympic Games three times, in 1964, 1968, and 1972.

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King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 86 years old
Father of the infamous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Abdulaziz Al Saud is one of the “Sudairi Seven” sons within the Saudi royal family. He was officially appointed king in 2015—and is purported to have been involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

President of Lebanon Michel Aoun, 87 years old
Aoun has been serving as president since 2016, though his tenure has been fraught with chaos; in 2018 the country held its first parliamentary election in nine years—but it took nine months afterward to put together a cabinet.

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President of Cameroon Paul Biya, 89 years old
Biya has been in power for 40 years and appears to have no plans to quit anytime soon. He’s Africa’s second-longest serving leader and has led through an attempted coup in 1984 and the country’s first multi-party election in 1992. Biya won that by four percentage points, but in more recent years has remained completely out of the public eye—even absent during celebrations for his own 40th anniversary since assuming power.

Until recently, of course, Queen Elizabeth II would have been on this list—she reigned for 70 years until she died this year at the age of 96.

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