First Round

The contestants were picked randomly against one another.


Antonio Salazar


Mu'ammer Quathafi

A bizarre pairing as these guys are perhaps the two weakest contenders in the contest. Longevity of rule is a characteristic of both men but that is about the only mark they leave on the planet. Quathafi's Africa policy is stumbling and every terrorist group he has ever nurtured is on the run. Contrast this to a man who put the breaks on the Portuguese economy for forty years and chose to have people like Ian Smith for friends. Still, at least he did not lose a war to...Chad. Salazar, not very convincingly, goes through to the next round.


Fidel Castro


Pol Pot

No contest. Even though Fidel is very very close to being top of the hit parade when it comes to length of rule he fails when it comes to brutality. Cuba may very well be a place where speaking your mind could get you thrown in jail but it is not the kind of place where entire families are rounded up, tortured and killed just for possessing a few books. Pol Pot transformed Cambodia into such a charnel house that it is difficult to see anyone getting in his way in this contest. Castro crushed.


Mao Zedong


Nicolae Ceausescu

This is almost too tight to call. Nicolae had a superb sense of style (his Presidential palace is the second biggest building in the World,) a gargantuan ego (Romanians rationed to two hours of TV a day - all about him) and an admirable tenacity (flying to Iran during the 1989 uprisings to ask the Ayatollah for troops to quell the crowds) but he never achieved on Mao's scale. The Chairman could change the course of a nation with a simple utterance, ruled a country of hundreds of millions and was almost universally loved. Something Nicolae could only dream of. Mao is triumphant.


Ferdinand Marcos


Joseph Stalin

Hmm. David and Goliath retold. Except this time David does not even get a chance to arm his sling. Yes, Ferdinand did all the things a dictator should do - stole, abused, imprisoned, even killed but he hardly made waves outside of his native Philippines. Stalin scared, and indeed scarred the whole planet. The number of people who died as a consequence of this thug's rule is so high that it defies comprehension. To say that Marcos is out of his league is to redefine the term understatement.


Mobuto Sese Seko


Adolf Hitler

Uh oh, prepare yourselves for a first round shocker. Granted Hitler pretty much has the lock for greatest bastard of all time award; his mass murder and wartime killing is off the scale and as a demagogue he will be studied for centuries, but here is has drawn a master of despotism. It should not be underestimated how difficult it is to keep the different provinces of Congo/Zaire together but Mobuto did it for 32 years. He had panache (hosting Rumble in the Jungle in 1974) he had political skills (an army uprising? Give every soldier a promotion) and he thieved more money from the State coffers than any man who has ever lived. By contrast Hitler was, though evil personified, rather dull.


Jean Bédel Bokassa


Augusto Pinochet

Given Pinochet's high profile in the World press over the last couple of years there have been a lot of column inches detailing the brutalities of his regime. thinks this has all been blown slightly out of proportion. Admittedly over three thousand people were disappeared in the early years of the regime and if you continued to cling to socialism in Chile you were probably in for a hard time but the austerity paid off, and the General himself was remarkably honest. In contrast Bokassa had the nerve to declare himself an Emperor. Oh, and this, the clincher: he. ate. dead. babies.


'Baby Doc' Duvalier


Kim Il Sung

Please, oh, c'mon. Even with both arms tied behind his back The Great Leader could wipe the floor with this guy. Despite the fact that both of these men exist in peculiar political dynasties the similarities go no further. Baby Doc merely sat and basked in the glory of his father's achievements - going to the odd party here, having a shopping trip to France there. Kim aimed for more than that. Not only did he start a war that led to deaths in the millions he also presided over perhaps this century's nastiest and most brutal regime. And that is against stiff competition.


Benito Mussolini


Hastings Banda will admit something of a soft spot for Hastings Banda. In a miasma of tired leftwing post colonial African leaders Banda bucked the trend. He proved willing to trade with apartheid South Africa; willing to allow private enterprise; willing to steal every penny he could lay his hands on. But he only ever stayed in Malawi, content with the kingdom he had been granted. Mussolini, on the other hand longed for a return to the glory days of the Roman Empire. How many countries did this guy try to take a bite out of? Egypt, Ethiopia, Albania, Slovenia, Greece. Unreal. Benito moves ahead, Hastings gets left at the station.

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