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Europe’s leaders are younger and less experienced. Does it matter?


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is something of a rarity amongst European leaders: aged 64, he has been an elected politician since the 1990s.

At meetings of EU heads of government, he cuts an avuncular figure as only Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus is older. Antonio Costa of Portugal and Klaus Iohannis of Romania are the only other leaders to have blown at least 60 candles on their birthday cakes. 

Nine of the 27 EU leaders are meanwhile in their forties. One, Finland’s Sanna Marin, has yet to even reach that milestone. 

According to a 2019 report by Bloomberg, the average age of global leaders has increased since the 1950s but European heads of government have been bucking the trend and getting younger since the early 1980s, when the average age was 67.

Today, the average age is just 53, according to an analysis by Euronews.

Across the continent, prime ministers and presidents are not just getting younger, they tend to have had less experience in legislative or formal politics before taking the top job. They are also less reliant on mainstream parties and — much to the chagrin of an older generation — have piggybacked on politic’s transition to television and social…

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