Are there some examples of leaders of foreign birth and different nationality who were elected democratically to lead countries?

Like for example if a American person would lead India.

  • 1
    The question lacks research effort. During war/occupation usually all the defeated country would be led by leaders from the country that have won the war. If you could provide which period in history you are referring and show what study you have made in them and mention them in the question that would be more appropriate.
    – Karthick
    Jun 4, 2014 at 2:47
  • There are many examples of Kings being outsourced from outside the nation (Greece for example, but there a quite a number) were it was felt an outsider would cause less conflict than promoting one from within (when one noble is plucked from a fairly equal group, jealousy and pre standing conflict etc ) that the outsider was also felt to be more neutral and less involved in the historical conflicts and feuds.
    – pugsville
    Jun 4, 2014 at 5:09
  • I don't see the reason of downvote. Maybe it can be improved by adding some details of the question. For example define ethnicity? Jun 4, 2014 at 6:16
  • Is it better now? Jun 4, 2014 at 17:31
  • Bobby Jindal is an American of Indian ancestry - if he were elected President (which at one time looked plausible), would that count? Last time I checked it wasn't possible to immigrate to India, so the reverse cannot happen. George Washington was born English, but elected to rule USA. So was Adams, Madison and Monroe. Every time a new country is created the first rule is of foreign birth & nationality.
    – MCW
    Jun 4, 2014 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


I don't know if you meant complete democratic examples, but Alberto Fujimori is a pretty famous example of your request, he lead Peru a little longer than ten years, as he has been elected enacted neo-liberal reforms, then after a crisis his system turned into a nightmare.

In US, Obama could be an example if the US itself wouldn't be heterogenous already.

  • Oooh, that's a good one. Nice answer to a dumb question. Jun 4, 2014 at 17:14

The question rests on a false assumption - that "country" can be tied to "ethnicity". There are a few countries that make an effort at racial purity, but I think that the concept has fallen by the wayside.

There is a second flaw in the question. "Democratically elected" means "elected by those we choose to have the franchise" - Generally this excludes women, minorities, and aboriginal inhabitants. If I recall correctly, nearly every election held in South Carolina until 1866 disenfranchised the majority of the population, so every elected official in South Carolina during that period would fit your definition. As would every elected official in Rome (which is why I cite Nerva below)

The third flaw is that the knee jerk response to some of the examples below is to deny that they don't represent distinct ethnic groups. D'israeli is a good example - I don't recall that he ever referred to himself as Jewish, but his contemporaries identified him as Jewish.

  • Rome - Nerva - first Italian Emperor (loosely speaking, still elected; the Romans would have argued that the Italians were ethnically different).
  • USA-
    • Washington (At least from the Native American viewpoint, he was a departure from the founding ethnicity) - and as I point out above, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson were all elected despite being of foreign birth and ethnicity.
    • Martin van Buren (First President of Dutch descent, and I believe first President not of English descent). However he was the first President who was born a US citizen. (Take that Birthers!)
    • Kennedy (Irish Catholic)
    • Obama (African American)
  • England - Disraeli (Jewish)
  • South Africa - De Klerk (Not a member of the majority population)
  • Guadalupe Victoria -President of Mexico, born in New Spain; I believe his ethnicity was Spanish rather than Mexican.
  • Ahmed Ben Bella - first President of Algeria, his parents were Morrocan, but legally he was born a Frenchman.
  • Belgium Elio Di Rupo - trick question since Belgium contains two distinct ethnic groups, EVERY Prime minister of Belgium rules over a country including an ethnicity not his own. Mr. Di Rupo is the first Francophone in quite a while
  • India - EVERY elected rule of India rules over a variety of ethnicities not his or her own.
  • I tried to improve the question, it still could have some makeup, I think from your list South Africa and England are good examples, since these countries have less of multicultural environment. In US there are no definite dominant culture. I would say Obama fits into US cultural identity. I am puzzled with Rome since I don't know what were the situation 2000 years ago with the word "Italian". Still it worths a +1 from me. Jun 4, 2014 at 12:11
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    The fact that we speak two different languages in Belgium doesn't mean we have two different "ethnicities". This area has been ruled and invaded by foreigners for so often that i doubt you'd be able to see a difference in genetics. Di Rupo is a good example though for a different reason: his parents where Italians.
    – Jeroen K
    Jun 6, 2014 at 13:26
  • My Belgian relatives seem to disagree; they feel that the Flemish speaking part of the country are only there on sufferance. <grin>
    – MCW
    Jun 6, 2014 at 13:36

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