Permanent Elected Official
Sometimes, these folks run as good as unopposed.
: You know, there are three things we're never going to get rid of here in Springfield. One: the bats in the public library. Two: Mrs. McFierly's compost heap. And three, our six-term mayor: the illiterate, tax-cheating, wife-swapping, pot-smoking, spendocrat "Diamond" Joe Quimby. Mayor Quimby
(while watering pot plants in his office): Hey! I am no longer illiterate
A politician with Ultimate Job Security
. No matter how incompetent or corrupt, that person cannot be thrown out of office. Perhaps because there's no one to fire them (who fires the King of a Kingdom?), or perhaps because no one will run against them. Or maybe their corruption
is part of the reason
they can cling to their office. Lastly, they may simply use the population's general apathy.
In episodic media, this may overlap with Vetinari Job Security
: the politician (more often incompetent than corrupt in those cases) does
get replaced— and his replacement proves far worse, thus the heroes have to try and get the previous buffoon back into power.
And sometimes, if it's a really small community in the middle of nowhere or the position doesn't include much in the way of real authority or prestige, this trope ends up happening because nobody can be bothered to run against the incumbent.
Just the First Citizen
is often when the dictator poses as this. It may also lead to a Hereditary Republic
No Real Life Examples, Please!
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Anime and Manga
- Mayor Papazoni of Pecola definitely fits into this mold. He is fond of giving long-winded speeches, but then simply pops into one of his many hidey-holes whenever somebody questions what he's going to actually do for the town. They state that the only reason that he keeps getting elected is because nobody else will take the job.
- The president in Escape from L.A. got the constitution amended so he could stay in office for life. Impeachment probably isn't an option considering America's a stone's throw away from a complete theocracy.
- Older Than Radio: The character translated as Mayor in Gogol's The Inspector General (1836), who is a powerful Corrupt Hick with more powers than a mayor would be thought of as having. This being Czarist Russia, there was neither a press nor was central bureaucracy as strong as today. Of course he had more power than a mayor of a comparable town today.
- The Commdors of the Republic of Korell in Isaac Asimov's Foundation are a dynasty of these.
- In David Weber's Honor Harrington, this happens with dismaying regularity.
- First, in the People's Republic of Haven, over half of the population is on state-funded welfare and the families of the "democratically elected leaders" have been in place for generations; they keep the population happy and they get to stay in power... even if they have to go conquering most of the other planets in the region and loot their economies to keep the edifice standing.
- The Solarian League is worse, though; the Office Of Frontier Security is in bed with the transsteller corporations; the usual plan is to destabilize an independent star nation so that they'll "invite" in the Office Of Frontier Security for "protection"; the OFS guy is often "elected" to be "President For Life" while the transstellers take over the planet's economy and start looting.
- Late Jim Cloop, the mayor of Scrote in Discworld, has the position permanently, because everyone agrees he's the best mayor they've ever had. Not "for life", permanently. He died in office immediately after the election, and they couldn't afford to hold another one. When his first term was up, they noticed he hadn't raised taxes, taken bribes or embezzled public funds, so they voted him in again. That was over a century ago, and he's still mayor as of the most recent Discworld Companion.
Live Action Television
- Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard is the County Commissioner, and completely corrupt. Nobody ever runs against him for commissioner, though. (Ditto for Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane.)
- Probably helps that he owns the bank and everyone's mortgages.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Mayor Richard Wilkins III (he was also Richard Wilkins II and I as well). Not once in three lifetimes was he voted out of office.
- In Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Thompson seems to be this at first, but by the end of the season we see that his hold on power is much more fragile that it appears. The mayor and the Commodore both thought that they had achieved this status, but it was revoked when they lost Nucky's backing due to a changing political climate.
- In Once Upon a Time, Regina Mills (formerly known as the Evil Queen) is always Mayor of Storybrooke, Maine, due to the terms of the curse placed upon its inhabitants. The citizenry rationalizes this by assuming that everyone is simply too afraid to run against her, even though no one actually seems to like her enough to vote for her.
- In The Savage Eye, Ireland's President For Life.
- In Rifts, there's Karl Prosek, of the Coalition States. He was elected Chairman after the death of the previous head, his father. He then secretly started a grass roots campaign that got him elected Emperor-for-Life. He's not incompetent, nor is he corrupt, but under his reign, the Coalition has become more and more intolerant of non-humans and magic users, and its populace has become more and more ignorant and xenophobic. In a way, he's actually worse than an outright tyrant, because he's convinced the citizens of the Coalition that his draconian measures are for their own protection, and they cheerfully obey his every wish.
- The SimCity series lampshades this by having your advisors comment on how corrupt you are, and some call elections a "formality" (given that the only way to be voted out of office is to work your city into inescapable levels of debt), and mention in passing "the debauched toga parties" and wasteful spending.
- In the original game you would be ousted by "an angry mob, led by your mother" if you fail to achieve the objectives in scenario mode.
- In later SimCity games, you are known as "Mayor Defacto". They've come to terms with your eternal rule, and have just accepted it.
- Monique Diamond, finance advisor from SimCity 4 is particularly egregious with implications of embezzlement. She's not complaining; it's also implied she's skimming money off the top herself.
- It was possible to be fired (therefore losing the game) in the SNES version, though.
- It is also possible to get fired in most versions of SimCity 2000 and 3000.
- The Civilization games comes to mind... no matter how many centuries pass, no matter how many revolutions rage through the lands, YOU are always the guy who's in charge when the smoke clears - whether that means being the 'democratically-elected' President, Prime Minister, Glorious Dictator, or High Priest of the Church of You...
- Ditto in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, where the leader of the faction is always the same. However, this is slightly justified in the Expanded Universe where the leaders undergo periodic life extension treatments. Also, unlike Civilization, the factions in SMAC are based in ideology, which would make sense that they'd want to keep the founders of the ideology in power. Also, in case of Yang, his State Sec makes sure he stays in power. Also subverted in an Expanded Universe novel, where Yang gets arrested and put in jail for his atrocities and his political rival Jin Long is put in his place... except Long is actually a clone of Yang and takes Yang's name for political reasons and marries Yang's daughter.
- The DS games Drawn to Life seem to mistake a mayor for a king. As apparently when the mayor will eventually die, his daughter will then become mayor.
- David Jefferson Adams in Shattered Union is very closely elected President for his first term, and gets all his opponent disqualified for the next election. His second term doesn't last long.
- An ideal to be aspired to in Tropico, hard to achieve.
- Actually fairly easy to achieve by tweaking your character's past and personality before the game starts. Coming to power via a military coup or socialist rebellion drastically reduce the expectations of your people for fair democratic elections. With the right setup, you can get away with never holding an election!
- The Enclave in Fallout has such Presidents. There is President Richardson who was serving his sixth term by Fallout 2 and won otherwise democratic elections as there were no other candidates, and there is President Eden who proclaimed himself President after the former's death and has been the President for over thirty years.
- The player is this in Animal Crossing New Leaf. S/he can have a 0% approval rating and the town can be filled with weeds and trash, but everyone will still refer to him/her as the mayor. What's more, the player didn't even want the position; s/he was mistaken for the real mayor, and the animals refused to believe otherwise.
- The eponymous mayor of Tom Goes To The Mayor, who has remained in office for twelve years due to a combination of family connections, low voter turnout, and a bizarre local law giving mayors thirteen-year terms.
- Mayor Quimby of The Simpsons who tends to get voted back into office due to voter apathy, corruption, and the fact that the republican party can't pick a candidate to oppose him. When they do, they picked Sideshow Bob (a known criminal).
- One of the future episodes revealed he was eventually indicted and reduced to working as a cab driver under the alias "Mohammed Jafar".
- The Mayor of Dimmsdale an The Fairly Oddparents once introduced himself as "mayor for life". When the crowd reacts with confusion, he merely laughs and tells them they need to pay attention to those ballots.
- In the film version of Horton Hears a Who!, the Mayor of Whoville is revealed to be an inherited position, which implies this. Of course, Mayor seems to be just ceremonial, as the City Council seems to hold all the political power.
- The Powerpuff Girls: The Mayor of Townsville is a completely incompetent moron but manages to stay in office. One episode revealed that this is because no one ever runs against him - though he insists on campaigning anyway which annoys everyone so much that when Fuzzy Lumpkins tells him to shut up, the people vote him the new mayor despite the fact that he never actually enters the mayoral race. Of course Fuzzy turns out to be even worse so the girls get the old Mayor to take his job back.
- The two sister princesses, Celestia and Luna, from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have been ruling Equestria for more than a thousand years.note Seeing that their government is some form of monarchy -technically a diarchy as of the events of the pilot episode- and that they are practically immortal and effectively Physical Gods, Equestria won't be seeing a new ruler anytime soon. How much direct authority Celestia and Luna hold as joint heads of state is left somewhat vague, but we do know that individual towns have mayors so it's quite possible that there's a parliament of some kind that handles the day-to-day stuff.
- Richard Nixon in Futurama is now on his 6th term as president (4 as Earth president and 2 as US president.)