Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) was a Britishpolitician and the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a position she held from 1979 to 1990. She was a member of the Conservative Party and the figurehead of a political ideology known as Thatcherism. Even before coming to power she was nicknamed The Iron Lady in Soviet propaganda, an appellation which stuck. The changes she set in motion between coming to power and 1985 were profound, and altered much of the economic, cultural and commercial landscape of Britain and, by example, the world as a whole. Along the way she also aimed to roll back the welfare state, or "nanny state", as she termed it. Her popularity finally declined when she replaced the unpopular local government Rates tax with the even less popular Community Charge. At the same time the Conservative Party began to split over her sceptical approach to Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union. Her leadership was challenged from within and she was forced to resign in 1990, her loss at least partly due to inadequate advice and campaigning.
Józef Piłsudski (1867–1935) was Chief of State (1918–22), "First Marshal", and authoritarian leader of the Second Polish Republic. From mid-World War I he was a major influence in Poland's politics, and an important figure on the European political scene. He is considered largely responsible for Poland regaining independence in 1918, after 123 years of partitions. Early in his political career, Piłsudski became a leader of the Polish Socialist Party. Concluding, however, that Poland's independence would have to be won by force of arms, he created the Polish Legions. In 1914 he anticipated the outbreak of a European war, the Russian Empire's defeat by the Central Powers, and the Central Powers' defeat by the western powers. When World War I broke out, he and his Legions fought alongside the Austro-Hungarian and German Empires to ensure Russia's defeat. In 1917, with Russia faring badly in the war, he withdrew his support from the Central Powers. From November 1918, when Poland regained independence, until 1922, Piłsudski was Poland's Chief of State. In 1919–21 he commanded Poland's forces in the Polish-Soviet War. In 1923, with the Polish government dominated by his opponents, particularly the National Democrats, he withdrew from active politics. Three years later he returned to power with the May 1926 coup d'état, and became the de facto dictator of Poland. From then until his death in 1935, he concerned himself primarily with military and foreign affairs.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, (1874 – 1965) was a British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders. He served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist. During the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in warning about the danger from Hitler and in campaigning for rearmament. On the outbreak of World War II, he was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. His steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender or a compromise peace helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone in its active opposition to Hitler. Churchill was particularly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which helped inspire the British people.
Nguyen Ngoc Tho was the first Prime Minister of South Vietnam, serving from November 1963 to late January 1964. Tho was appointed to head a civilian cabinet by General Duong Van Minh's military junta, which came to power after overthrowing and assassinatingNgo Dinh Diem, the nation's first president. Tho's rule was marked by a period of confusion and weak government, as the Military Revolutionary Council and the civilian cabinet vied for power. Tho oversaw South Vietnam's failed land reform policy, and was accused of lacking vigour in implementing the program because he was a large landowner. He was noted for his faithful support of Diem during the Buddhist crisis that ended the rule of the Ngo family. Despite being a Buddhist, Tho staunchly defended the regime's pro-Catholic policies and its violent actions against the Buddhist majority. Tho lost his job and retired from politics when Minh's junta was deposed in a January 1964 coup by General Nguyen Khanh.
Ed Stelmach (born 1951) is the current Premier of Alberta, Canada, having served in this capacity since December 14, 2006. He spent his entire pre-political adult life as a farmer, except for some time spent studying at the University of Alberta. His first foray into politics was a 1986 municipal election, when he was elected to the county council of Lamont County. A year into his term, he was appointed reeve. He continued in this position until his entry into provincial politics. In the 1993 provincial election, Stelmach was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vegreville-Viking. A Progressive Conservative, he served in the cabinets of Ralph Klein. When Klein resigned the party's leadership in 2006, Stelmach was among the first to run to replace him. After a third place finish on the first ballot of the leadership race, he won an upset second ballot victory over former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning. Stelmach's premiership has been heavily focused on management of the province's oil reserves, especially those of the Athabasca Oil Sands. Other policy initiatives have included commencing an overhaul of the province's health governance system, a re-introduction of all-party committees to the Legislature, and the conclusion of a major labour agreement with Alberta's teachers.
Grover Cleveland (1837–1908) was both the 22nd and 24thPresident of the United States. Cleveland is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885–1889 and 1893–1897) and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents. He was the winner of the popular vote for President three times—in 1884, 1888, and 1892—and was the only Democrat elected to the Presidency in the era of Republican political domination that lasted from 1860 to 1912. Cleveland's admirers praise him for his honesty, independence, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. As a leader of the Bourbon Democrats, he opposed imperialism, taxes, subsidies and inflationary policies, but as a reformer he also worked against corruption, patronage, and bossism. Critics complained that he had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation's economic disasters—depressions and strikes—in his second term. Even so, his reputation for honesty and good character survived the troubles of his second term.
José Paranhos, Viscount of Rio Branco (1819–1880) was a politician, monarchist, diplomat, teacher and journalist of the Empire of Brazil. In 1871, Rio Branco became the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) for the first time. He would become the Council's longest-serving president, and his cabinet the second longest, in Brazilian history. His government was marked by a time of economic prosperity and the enactment of several necessary reforms—though they proved to be seriously flawed. The most important of these initiatives was the Law of Free Birth, which granted freeborn status to children born to slave women. Rio Branco led the government that enacted this law, and its passage increased his popularity. However, his government was plagued by a long crisis with the Catholic Church that had resulted from the expulsion of Freemasons from its lay brotherhoods. After more than four years heading the Cabinet, Rio Branco resigned in 1875. Following a long vacation in Europe, his health swiftly declined and he was diagnosed with oral cancer. Rio Branco died in 1880 and was widely mourned throughout the country. He is regarded by most historians as one of Brazil's greatest statesmen.