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Top 10 controversial politicians in the world

From scandalous sex scandals to overthrowing and changing the regime of a nation, these political leaders have been always surrounded with controversies. Some of them still in power today are prominent figures regularly striking world debates on their controversial nature of action. Read on our list of world’s top controversial leaders.

10. Sarah Palin


American politician Sarah Palin zoomed her way to limelight when she was selected as the Republican party nominee for the post of Vice President of United States in 2008. Palin, the former Governor of Alaska, has been among the controversial politicians of our times. Often speaking her mind in the 2008, which many a times were politically incorrect, Palin was described by McCain staffers as ‘Gone rogue’, which inspired the title of her memoir ‘Going Rogue: An American Life’. Often criticised for her conservative views, Sarah Palin remains one of the most controversial politicians of modern America.

9. Ruhollah Khomeini


Known in the west as Ayatollah Khomeini, he was an Iranian religious leader and politician who saw the overthrow of the Shah of Iran. He was named the man of the year by TIME magazine, remaining a controversial figure all around the around. Known for his support of the hostage takers during the Iran hostage crisis and for calling the US government, the Great Satan and the USSR, the lesser Satan, he advocated that Iran should support neither side. Khomeini is also criticized for ordering the execution of political prisoners during war with Iraq.

8. Bill Clinton


Bill Clinton, the 42nd president of United States is another controversial politician who was involved with the famous sex scandal of 1998. The third youngest president had a sexual relationship with a 22 year-old white house intern, Monica Lewinsky. The news of this extra-marital affair led to the impeachment of Clinton by the House of Representatives. During this time, Clinton engaged in perjury and obstruction of justice which led to his acquittal in a 21-day Senate trial.  Since leaving office, he has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian works.

7. Winston Churchill


Considered as the greatest war-time leaders of the 20th century, Winston Churchill is also considered to be a controversial politician. During the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in warning about Nazi army and in campaigning for rearmament. He was largely seen controversial in returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move that is widely seen as creating the deflationary pressure on UK economy. Churchill is also criticized for his opposition to increased home-rule for India, making racist remarks against Gandhi and his resistance to the 1936 abdication of Edward VII.

6. Mao Zedong


A highly controversial politician, Mao is regarded as one of the most important individuals in modern world history. He was a Chinese communist revolutionary and a founding father of the People’s Republic of China. In 1957, he launched a campaign that aimed to transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign, however, led to one the deadliest famines in history. Mao is widely criticized for the Cultural Revolution he started in 1966, a program to weed out supposed counter-revolutionary elements in China that lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle, widespread destruction of cultural artifacts and an elevation of Mao’s personality cult which is officially regarded as a “severe setback” for the China.

5. Indira Gandhi


Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, one of India’s founding fathers and the first Prime Minister of the country, features among the controversial politicians of all times. Becoming the third Prime Minister of India, Mrs Gandhi was known for her political ruthlessness and centralisation of power. With a populist slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao’, Indira Gandhi, championed the case of removing massive poverty which engulfed India. She went on a war with Pakistan, which led to the creation of Bangladesh. Her imposition of emergency in India, was a phase of suppression of civil liberty in India. Mrs Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star, an Indian military operation carried out to eliminate Sikh militants, hiding in the Golden Temple, which the Sikhs deem as one of their holiest shrines. On 31st October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh body guards as a revenge for Operation Blue Star.

4. Fidel Castro


Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, the communist revolutionary politician, who ruled Cuba for over 45 years, first as its Prime Minister, and then as President is one of the most controversial politicians in the world. Leader of the Cuban revolution, Castro is lauded by his supporters as the champion of socialism, anti-imperialism and humanitarianism, while his critics view Castro as a dictator who oversaw human rights abuses and led to downfall of Cuban economy. Close to the erstwhile Soviet Union, Castro created a stir when he allowed the USSR nuclear missiles to be positioned in Cuba, ostensibly as a threat to United States, during the cold war era.

3. Silvio Berlusconi


Next in line of controversial politicians is Silvio Berlusconi. Former prime minister of Italy has always been a prominent figure surrounded by a number of controversies from scandalous sex affairs to poor judgement and decision making. Owner of the largest broadcasting company in the country, Mediaset, it is said that he entered politics only to save his companies from bankruptcy and himself and his associates from convictions. His political struggles are aggravated by a string of reports about his private life including the famous “bunga bunga” parties scandals. In June 2013, he was found guilty of paying an under-age girl for sex and abuse of power.

2. Adolf Hitler


Adolf Hitler, the German politician and leader of the Nazi Party has been one of the most controversial politicians ever. A decorated veteran of World War – I, he became a leader of German Worker’s party in early 1920s. After being imprisoned for some time for attempting a coup, Hitler gained popular support through his charismatic oratory, which promoted anti Semitism, anti-communism and Nazi propaganda. After being appointed as the chancellor of Germany, he transformed the country into a single party dictatorship, dwelling upon the autocratic ideology of Nazism. His invasion of Poland led to World War II. His regime was responsible for the racially motivated genocide of over 5 million Jews. Hitler committed suicide in 1945, to avoid being captured towards the end of World War II.

1. Vladimir Putin


Featured top place in the controversial politicians all around the world is Russia’s fourth and current president, Vladimir Putin. Currently ranked as the world’s most powerful man according to Forbes, he is worshipped as a super-hero in Russia and treated as a pop cultural icon with many commercial products names after him. Though his first presidency rule was marked by high economic growth, most of his actions are regarded as undemocratic by foreign observers. Surrounded by many controversies like flawed parliamentary elections in 2012, making Russia an authoritarian regime etc has always kept him in a low light. Recent controversies involve his anti-gay laws, equating gays with pedophiles.