The First African-American President, Sure...

but isn't the Obama's presidency even a little more remarkable than that?

I thought of this while reading Oggi today*: the reporter remarked the Obama was the first black president of the United States. And I thought, "Yes, but it's not like we were last our anything: Italy hasn't elected any Africans as prime minister, has it?"

And then my thoughts went even further: has any nation with a population mostly of European descent ever elected someone largely not of European descent as head of state, prior to Obama? So, the criteria: the country has a population over 50% of which are European in ancestry, and they have elected a head of state of at least 50% non-European ancestry. Had it happened before 2008?

Here's one possibility, but a tough case to decide: Fujimori in Peru. The reason it is tough is that the population has a very high proportion of people of mixed descent, so it is not clear to me if it counts as a country with a majority European population, but I think it probably does not.

PS: While trying to research this question a little bit -- what exactly does one Google for here? -- I found this article, in which the authors write, "Many nations have had women presidents and prime ministers, including Ireland and India." I'm figuring that, being good progressives, the authors declared Maggie an honorary "non-woman" when it comes to heads of state.

* -- Does that count as stuttering?


  1. If you count Ashkenazi as European then I bet Israeli counts. If you don't I think England does (Disraeli).

    There's another issue: head of state. That is going to rule out European monarchies a priori.

    1. "If you count Ashkenazi as European then I bet Israeli counts."

      I just surveyed the list: it looks to me like every Israeli Prime Minister was either themselves from Poland, Russia, Ukriane, etc. or their parents were from Eastern Europe. So it doesn't look like it.

      "There's another issue: head of state. That is going to rule out European monarchies a priori."

      Most of the monarchs are just figureheads now. I mean in the UK the prime minister, etc.

  2. Depending on your definitions, maybe Philip the Arab, Marcus Julius Philippus, Roman emperor 244-249. Elect is a broad term technically.


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