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Inspired by this question, which head of state in history has had the largest number of non-consecutive periods of rule? One answer on that question has given Gruffudd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd as an example, having had 4 periods of rule (thus 3 gaps).

Note that unlike the linked question, I'm including not just monarchs in this but any head of state. However, we should rule out people who have been head of state in multiple forms back-to-back without a gap in between. (Vladimir Putin, for example, has alternated between President and Prime Minister of Russia a few times, but he was never out of power in between those role changes.)

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  • There's a related question on HSE 'most number of times someone has become leader of a European country' (sori, I can't insert the link on my device). – Lars Bosteen Sep 10 '20 at 14:46
  • @LarsBosteen it's this question, with interesting answers such as "Eleftherios Venizelos was the Prime Minister of Greece for seven non-consecutive times", "Aristide Briand was Prime Minister of France 6 non-contiguous times" and plenty others – Kepotx Sep 10 '20 at 15:07
  • @LarsBosteen That could be an answer, though it's limited to just Europe. It's possible there may be someone elsewhere that has more? – Darrel Hoffman Sep 10 '20 at 17:09
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The answers to this (What is the most number of times someone has become leader of a European country?) question should show which Europeans were heads of state and/or heads of government of their countries the most times.

You have to be careful to see which of them were elected to office consecutively and which were elected or usurped the throne non consecutively. The examples include someone who was Grand vizer of the Ottoman Empire eight times with seven gaps between periods of rule, and someone who was Prime Minister of France eleven times, with five gaps between periods of rule. Rurik I or II Rostislavich, was grand prince of Kiev five, six, or seven times, with four, five, or six gaps between his reigns.

And those answers only apply to European countries.

According to an answer to Which monarch had the longest break in their reign Norodom Sihanouk's two terms as King of Cambodia were separated by 37 years. But he also had the position of head of state of Cambodia two times during that interval, so if you count being king and being head of state together, there were 3 gaps between his reigns.

But I remember researching and writing something about Norodom Sihanouk fairly recently. As I remember Norodom Sihanouk also had about ten terms as prime minister of Cambodia. If you count king, head of state, and prime minister together, there will have been several more gaps between the various reigns of Norodom Sihanouk.

In Africa, Tekle Giyorgis I (c. 1751-1817) was king of kings of Ethiopia six times between 1779 and 1800, thus having five gaps between his reigns.

In the USA, Grover Cleveland had one gap between his two administrations as president in 1885-89 and 1893-97.

You could joke that Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (1794-1876) was in and out of power so often they had to put a revolving door on the presidential palace. There were ten gaps between his eleven terms as president.

And those are the best examples I can think of.

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    It will be very hard to beat Santa Anna's record. – Evargalo Sep 11 '20 at 8:19

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