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A supreme leader 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:

There have been many dictators and political party leaders who have assumed such personal and/or political titles to evoke their supreme authority. World War II, for example, saw many fascist and other far right figures model their rule on Hitler's Führer or Mussolini's Duce personae. On the far left, several communist leaders[example needed] adopted "Supreme"-styled titles and/ or followed Stalin's Vozhd example.

List of titlesEdit

Listed by date of establishment.

1920s and earlierEdit

World War IIEdit

Cold War eraEdit

Post–Cold War eraEdit

  • Hugo Chávez, former President of Venezuela, was called El Comandante (The Commander) by the people during his reign.[3]
  • Nursultan Nazarbayev, since 1991 the President of Kazakhstan, was granted the title Елбасы (translit. Elbasy - "Leader of the Nation") by a parliamentary decision in 2010.[4]
  • Saparmurat Niyazov, president of Turkmenistan in 1990—2006, was referred by his self-given titles Serdar (“Leader”) and Türkmenbaşy (“Head of the Turkmens”)[5]. His successor Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow carries the title Arkadag (“Protector”, “Patron”)[6].
  • Kim Jong-Il 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").[2][verification needed]
  • Kim Jong-Un was made "Supreme Guide" after his father Kim Jong-Il died in 2011.[2]
  • 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[7] under the constitution for dishonesty, he can no longer serve as the head of a political party.
  • Xi Jinping has been officially recognized as lingxiu, a reverential term for "leader", by the Politburo of the CPC.[8][9]

In fictionEdit


  1. ^ William C. Kirby (ed.), Realms of Freedom in Modern China, p. 121
  2. ^ a b c 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 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  3. ^ Carroll, Rory (2013). Commandante: myth and reality in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela. New York: The Penguin Press. ISBN 978-1-59420-457-9.
  4. ^ Walker, Shaun (2015-04-24). "Kazakhstan election avoids question of Nazarbayev successor". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  5. ^ Cummings, Sally N. (2010). Symbolism and Power in Central Asia: Politics of the Spectacular. Milton, United Kingdom: Routledge. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-0415575676.
  6. ^ Walker, Shaun (2015-05-25). "A horse, a horse… Turkmenistan president honours himself with statue". The Guardian.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Why China is reviving Mao's grandiose title for Xi Jinping". South China Morning Post. 2017-10-28. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  9. ^ "Xi Jinping is no longer any old leader". The Economist. 2018-02-17. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2019-07-24.