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A Supreme Leader typically refers to a figure in the highest leadership position of an entity, group, organization, or state, who exercises strong or all-powerful authority over it. In religion, the supreme leader or supreme leaders is God or gods. In politics, a supreme leader is typically an all-powerful figure who has a cult of personality associated with them, such as Adolf Hitler as Führer in Germany, Benito Mussolini as Duce in Italy, Joseph Stalin as vozhd in the Soviet Union, the Supreme Leader of Iran, or the Supreme Leader of North Korea.
There have been many dictators and political party leaders who have assumed such personal and/or political titles to evoke their supreme authority. Particularly during the Second World War, many fascist and other comparable right-wing figures directly modelled these after Hitler's Führer and Mussolini's il Duce. During and after the Cold War, several socialist and communist leaders also assumed such titles, as did some other politicians at different points in time.
List of titles
Listed by date of establishment.
1930s and earlier
- Benito Mussolini, former dictator, Prime Minister of Italy and leader of the National Fascist Party was titled Duce, which means Leader.
- Antanas Smetona, the authoritarian president of Lithuania, adopted the title of Tautos Vadas ("Leader of the Nation")
- Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945, was known as der Führer ("the leader").
- Francisco Franco, dictator of Francoist Spain, assumed the title Caudillo, originally an honorary title for an army leader.
- Birger Furugård, leader of the Swedish National Socialist Party had the title of Riksledaren ("National Leader").
- Ioannis Metaxas, Greek dictator during the 4th of August Regime from 1936 until his death in 1941, assumed the title of Αρχηγός (Archigós, IPA: [arçiˈɣos]) meaning "leader".
- Chiang Kai-shek, de facto leader of the Republic of China, was sometimes referred as lingxiu (Chinese: 領袖)
- Joseph Stalin, de facto leader of the Soviet Union, decreed that he was to be officially designated as вождь translit. Vožd (Chief, Leader) from his fiftieth birthday in 1929.
- Rafael Trujillo, Dominican dictator from 1930 to 1961, assumed the nickname of "El Jefe" ("The Boss")
- Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian revolutionary in the Indian independence movement, was known as Netaji (Respected Leader).
- Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg, austrofascist leaders of Austria from 1933 to 1938, were referred to as Bundesführer ("leader federal") as heads of the Patriotic Front.
World War II
- Ante Pavelić, as dictator of the Independent State of Croatia, named himself Poglavnik.
- Anton Mussert, leader of the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands, was allowed to use the title Leider van het Nederlandsche Volk (Leader of the Dutch people) by the Germans in 1942.
- Frits Clausen, leader of the National Socialist Workers' Party of Denmark, had the title of Fører.
- Ferenc Szálasi, as dictator of the Hungarian State, named himself Nemzetvezető (Leader of the Nation).
- Josef Tiso, President of the First Slovak Republic, named himself Vodca in 1942.
- Ion Antonescu, as Prime Minister of Romania during most of World War II, named himself Conducător.
- Jef van de Wiele, leader of the DeVlag party, was named Landsleider van het Vlaamsche Volk (National Leader of the Flemish people) in December 1944.
- Léon Degrelle, leader of the Rexist Party, was named Chef-du-People-Wallon (Leader of the Walloon people) in December 1944.
- Staf de Clercq, co-founder and leader of the Flemish nationalist Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, was referred to as den Leider by his followers.
- Vidkun Quisling, leader of Nasjonal Samling and from 1942 Minister-President of the nominal Quisling regime, named himself Fører.
- Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, was known as The Leader.
- Tomáš Krejčí, leader of the Czech National Union in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from 1942 to 1945, was named Vůdce.
- Fidel Castro, the communist ex-president of Cuba was known as the Máximo Líder (Greatest Leader).
- Nicolae Ceaușescu, the communist leader of Romania from 1965 to 1989, also adopted the title Conducător.
- Alfredo Stroessner, the dictatorial president of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989, was eulogized as Gran Líder and Único Líder.
- Kim Il Sung, the first head of state of North Korea, is officially referred to by the North Korean government as 위대한 수령 translit. widaehan suryŏng (Great Leader).
- Muammar al-Gaddafi, former dictator of Libya, styled himself as Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution.
- Omar Torrijos, de facto dictator of Panama from 1968 to 1981, assumed the title Líder Máximo de la Revolución Panameña ("Supreme Leader of the Panamanian Revolution").
- The President of the United States is sometimes referred to colloquially as "Leader of the Free World". Note that this was never adopted as an official title.
- Supreme Leader of Iran, the highest-ranking political and religious authority in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Nursultan Nazarbayev, since 1991 the President of Kazakhstan, was granted the title Ұлт Лидері translit. Ult Lideri (Leader of the Nation) by a parliamentary decision in 2010.
- Saparmurat Niyazov, president-for-life and dictator of Turkmenistan, gave himself the title Türkmenbaşy ("Leader of all Turkmens")
- Kim Jong-Il is officially referred to by the North Korean government as 친애하는 지도자 translit. ch'inaehanŭn chidoja (Dear Leader).
- Kim Jong-Un has inherited a "Supreme Leader" the position of his father after his death in 2011.
- In the Star Wars scenario, "Supreme Leader" is a title for the fictional Star Wars character Asajj Ventress
- In The Dictator film, Shafeez Aladeen is the "President Prime Minister Supreme Leader Admiral General" of the Republic of Wadiya