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Liz Truss lasted just 44 days — who are Europe’s other shortest-serving prime ministers?

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By David Mac Dougall  & Aleksandar Brezar
Map of Europe with calendars
Map of Europe with calendars   -   Copyright  Euronews   -  

British Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned after just 44 days on the job. 

She only formally took over from Boris Johnson on 6 September, but after a premiership of chaotic policy decisions, freefalling economic indicators, media gaffes and high-profile resignations — not to mention opinion polls which saw her Conservative Party slump while the opposition Labour Party surged — Truss called it quits.

Truss is officially Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister ever, beating the next candidate George Canning who was PM for 118 days until he died in office in the 1820s.

Who are some of the other short-term prime ministers in Europe?

We’ve put together a (non-exhaustive) list with some of the highlights from the last 50 years or so of politics, with politicians who served 200 days or fewer — excluding those who were caretakers or interim PMs (ruling out at least one Portuguese politician, a Greek, a Finn, two Serbs and a Spaniard from our list!)

Montenegro: Dritan Abazović – 176 days (and counting)

Jason DeCrow / AP
Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazovic addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.Jason DeCrow / AP

Abazović is the most recent casualty among European prime ministers, having lost his seat after a parliamentary no-confidence vote on 20 August — but he remains in office for the time being. 

The leader of the liberal-green URA party came to office after the previous government also collapsed in April, as political allies fell out over lack of progress, nationalism and obstructionism, a practice where laws and policies are deliberately delayed. 

Abazović’s own coalition of largely pro-European and minority parties fell apart after he signed the controversial property agreement with the Serb Orthodox Church in early August, sparking immediate protests by the opposition as local media reported the contract was signed in secret.

The new prime minister of Montenegro is yet to be named.

Belgium: Paul Vanden Boeynants – 165 days

HERWIG VERGULT/AFP
File picture dated 27 March 1999, showing former Prime Minister Paul Van den BoeynantsHERWIG VERGULT/AFP

Paul Vanden Boeynants served twice as Belgium’s prime minister: the first time for two years in the 1960s and then again for just 165 days between 20 October 1978 and 3 March 1979.

After his stint as PM, Vanden Boeynants had a very colourful life in and out of politics. He received a three-year suspended jail sentence in the 1980s after being convicted of tax fraud.

Then, in 1989, he was apparently kidnapped by a crime gang and held hostage for a month while they demanded a ransom of 30 million Belgian francs (around €30 million).

Vanden Boeynants left full-time politics in the mid-1990s. He died in 2001 from pneumonia after heart surgery.

Estonia: Andres Tarand – 161 days

Serving as Estonia’s prime minister for just 161 days, Andreas Tarand was the Baltic state’s briefest leader so far, in office from 8 November 1994 to 17 April 1995.

A life-long environmentalist, Tarand had studied climatology at university and was Estonia’s environment minister in two different governments. 

Tarand was later elected to the European Parliament and served as an MEP from 2004 to 2009.

France: Bernard Cazeneuve – 161 days

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
FILE: French PM Bernard CazeneuveRemy de la Mauviniere/AP

French Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was in office for just five months and four days from December 2016 until May 2017.

He was appointed to the job by President Hollande after his predecessor launched a presidential campaign, and Cazeneuve resigned at the end of Hollande’s term in office when Emmanuel Macron took over as President of France.

Kosovo: Albin Kurti – 121 days

Credit: AP
Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti listens to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during a joint news conference at the EEAS building in Brussels in April 2021Credit: AP

When longtime protester and the leader of the main opposition party in Kosovo, Albin Kurti, finally became prime minister in February 2020 after months of negotiations with his coalition partners, he did not expect US President Donald Trump to unseat him.

Trump was eager to get involved in resolving the intractable political issues between Kosovo and Serbia, and Kurti was standing in his way.

The US envoy to the Balkans, Richard Grenell, put together a coalition of parties in parliament that would launch a vote of no-confidence against Kurti. It worked, and he was unseated after exactly four months in power.

That being said, when the Trump-backed government fell apart a few months later — Kurti was re-elected in a landslide.

Albania: Fatos Nano – 103 days

HEKTOR PUSTINA/AP
Albanian opposition leader Fatos Nano, left, of the Socialist Party, raises his hands in a victory saluteHEKTOR PUSTINA/AP

Fatos Nano came from a prominent family in communist Albania, and he steadily climbed the ranks of the Albanian Workers' Party.

He was eventually appointed PM of a transitional government and tasked with organising the first post-communist democratic elections in 1991.

His party won the elections, and he became prime minister. However, a general strike organised by independent unions forced him to resign a few weeks later, in June 1991, after a total of 3 months and 13 days in power.

Nano went on to reform the Workers' Party, transforming it from an anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist front into a social democratic party, and renamed it the Socialist Party of Albania.

He was re-elected prime minister for two additional terms, in 1997 and in 2002.

Italy: Amintore Fanfani – 102 days

Byron Rollins/1961 AP
FILE: President John Kennedy visits with his luncheon guest, Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani of Italy at the White House, June 12, 1961.Byron Rollins/1961 AP

Amintore Fanfani was prime minister of Italy six times in total — the first time just for 22 days in the 1950s — but it was his last term in office which landed the former fascist politician on our list.

He was PM from 18 April to 29 July 1987, a period of 102 days.

Fanfani started his political career in Mussolini’s National Fascist Party and wrote about his vision for a fascist Europe led by authoritarian governments in Rome and Berlin. He was instrumental in banning Italian Jews from holding jobs in government or academia, and after Mussolini was killed, he fled to Switzerland until the end of the war.

When he came back to politics, he became a Christian Democrat and led six different governments in the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s and was still active in politics, holding senior roles in the Italian Senate until the mid-1990s.

He died in 1999, aged 91.

Romania: Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu – 89 days

Vadim Ghirda/AP
FILE: Former Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, May 2012Vadim Ghirda/AP

Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu was appointed prime minister of Romania in February 2012 in an attempt to stabilise the country amid a serious political crisis.

Ungureanu had been put in the job by Romania's President and conservative mainstay, Traian Băsescu. 

Băsescu's move was labelled by some as a copy-paste of Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s promotion of Vladimir Putin – but Ungureanu and Putin had practically nothing in common, and the former director of the Romanian Intelligence Service failed to pass the no-confidence vote by the country’s grand coalition in early May of the same year.

Ungureanu remained active in Romanian politics, serving as a member of parliament in the following years. 

Finland: Anneli Jäätteenmäki – 69 days

VILLE MYLLYNEN/STR/AP
Finland's former Prime Minister Anneli Jaatteenmaki sits in the courtroom, as the so called 'Iraq leak' scandal trial continues in Helsinki, Finland, Friday March 5, 2004.VILLE MYLLYNEN/STR/AP

Anneli Jääteenmäki was Finland’s first female prime minister, briefly, from 17 April to 24 June 2003.

She led her Centre Party to victory in the 2003 general election but became embroiled in a scandal when serious questions were raised about how she got her hands on some confidential foreign ministry documents about the Iraq war, which she used in her election campaign to discredit the opposition.

Jäätteenmäki claimed someone sent her the documents by fax, unsolicited, and that she didn’t know how sensitive they were. A senior civil servant disputed her version of events and, with trust gone, she had to hand in her resignation.

Anneli Jääteenmäki’s political career didn’t end there, however. She went on to become an MEP in Brussels from 2004 to 2019.

Bulgaria: Andrey Lukanov – 22 days

AFP
Andrey Lukanov (C), leading member of the reformist wing of the Bulgarian Communist Party receives flowers on June 12, 1990 during a meeting in Sofia.AFP

Although the Balkan country is no stranger to political upheaval, having had four general elections — and four PMs — in the last 18 months, Andrey Lukanov holds the record for spending the least time as Bulgaria’s head of state, set in late 1990.

As the Soviet Union’s influence in eastern Europe waned, a number of communist countries found themselves at a crossroads, Bulgaria included.

Lukanov served as the last prime minister of the Socialist Republic of Bulgaria, and as the country began its transition to a western-style democracy following multi-party elections, he held on to the role until 7 December 1990.

Despite his offers to form a coalition government with the opposition, it was rejected on the grounds that Lukanov — a former Communist Party loyalist and highly ranked politician — should be held responsible for the deteriorating economy and the former regime’s past crimes.

He was eventually forced out of the office by large-scale demonstrations and a general strike.

Lukanov was assassinated in 1996 outside of his Sofia apartment. The true motives for his assassination are still unclear, while the perpetrators remain at large.

Croatia: Josip Manolić – 22 days

Josip Manolić’s brief stint as Croatia’s prime minister came at a very turbulent time as Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991, sparking a war with the ethnic Serbs in the country, backed by Belgrade and the remnants of the Yugoslav People’s Army.

Manolić became the first PM of the newly independent country by default, continuing in his role as the PM of Croatia within Yugoslavia, a position he took up in August 1990.

However, after President Franjo Tuđman signed the Brijuni Agreement in July 1991, further severing the country’s ties with other Yugoslav republics, Manolić was replaced by Franjo Gregorić, tasked by Tuđman to lead a grand coalition government dubbed Government of National Unity.

Manolić, a former head of the Yugoslav security agency, OZNA, and a member of the Partisan anti-fascist resistance in World War II was one of the key founders of the Croat nationalist centre-right party, HDZ, and was considered to be the second-most-powerful man in Croatia at the time after Tuđman.

However, after Manolić’s 1995 attempt to organise a mass defection of HDZ members to deprive Tuđman of a parliamentary majority failed, his star waned, and he became largely uninfluential.

Manolić, who turned 100 in March 2020, is one of the oldest living former PMs in the world.

Lithuania: Albertas Šimėnas – 3 days

Known as one of the signatories to the March 1990 Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, effectively declaring Lithuania's independence from the Soviet Union, Šimėnas became the Baltic country’s PM on 10 January 1991 after the previous government resigned due to economic turmoil.

However, Šimėnas disappeared three days later, after the Soviet army entered the capital Vilnius and laid siege to key buildings in the city in what was later dubbed as January Events.

Considered to be one of the main blemishes of USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s rule, the violent confrontations with the Lithuanian population led to 14 civilians killed and some 140 injured.

As Šimėnas was nowhere to be found amidst the turmoil, Gediminas Vagnorius — another signatory of the March 1990 act — held an emergency session and took over the reins.

Šimėnas reappeared on 14 January, joining Vagnorius’ government as minister of economy until that government collapsed in July 1992.

Sweden: Magdalena Andersson – 7.5 hours

Pontus Lundahl/AP
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks during an election rally at Celsiustorget, Uppsala, Sweden, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.Pontus Lundahl/AP

Sweden’s first female Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson only lasted seven and a half hours in office, the first time around.

In November 2021, after days of negotiations, Social Democrat leader Andersson was able to put together a minority government with the support of two smaller parties.

After parliament voted to approve her appointment, she presented a new budget plan for the country, but one of the parties withdrew their support, and she resigned just seven and a half hours after getting the job.

A few days later, the budget was back on the table, amended and approved, and Andersson was once again voted as Swedish prime minister, a role she continued until being replaced in October 2022 following the general election.