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Why has the US never elected a president under 40? And why do other countries have younger leaders?

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image of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak welcoming the President of the United States Joe Biden in London. Sunak took office at 43 years old.

What do countries like Chile, Montenegro, Ireland and France have in common? They elected or appointed individuals in their 40s and late 30s as presidents or prime ministers. In April, Simon Harris, 37, will become Ireland’s prime minister, replacing Leo Varadkar, who took office in 2017 at the age of 38. Montenegro’s president, Jakov Milatović, is 37. Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, is 38. And at the age of 39, Emmanuel Macron became the youngest president in French history. In the United States, the minimum age to become president is 35. Despite that, Americans have only elected nine presidents under the age of 50—the most recent, Bill Clinton, 46, in 1992, and Barack Obama, 47, in 2008. Joe Biden is 81. His opponent, former President Donald Trump is 77. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy sought the Republican nomination at age 38, but dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses. Why aren’t there more young presidential candidates?

Age is only one factor

Costas Panagopoulos, head of Northeastern University’s political science department, says the answer is complicated. “Age may be one factor that voters consider, but it is one among many other factors that voters may take into consideration when coming up with their voting preferences,” says Panagopoulos, who ran for the state legislature in Massachusetts when he was 19 years old. “I didn’t win that election,” he says. “But I can tell you firsthand how challenging it is for young people who have an interest in politics to sometimes break through.”

Read more at Northeastern Global News.

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