Morgan Tsvangirai has called Robert Mugabe's reported election victory “a huge farce” after the dictator's Zanu-PF party claimed on Thursday to have secured the win in Zimbabwe's presidential election. Tsvangirai likely has a point, with local observers citing problems with the process.
Yet regardless of the illegality, it appears that Tsvangirai is destined to be the nearly man of Zimbabwean politics, having already "lost" elections to Mugabe in 2002 and 2008, the latter marred by controversy after the MDC leader looked to have won a majority of the vote.
Tsvangirai is not alone, joining a long list of politicians who, by fair means or foul, never quite got the top job. Here are some of Morgan’s peers – the nearly men of politics:
“We’re alright,” shouted Neil Kinnock at the 1992 Labour conference just before the general election. Only he wasn’t “alright”, losing the subsequent vote despite being ahead in the polls. Some commentators suggested his raucous performance at the conference cost him the election.
Others cited The Sun’s front page asking Britons to “turn off the light” should the Labour Party win. But we prefer to think it was the Labour leader falling in the ocean nine years earlier that ensured this plucky coal miner's son never held high office.
Michael Mackintosh Foot, the straw-haired leftie who had the misfortune of leading Labour in opposition during the Thatcher years, was a prominent supporter of CDN and a powerful orator. Leading up to the 1983 election, the former journalist looked certain to become Prime Minister as Thatcher’s controversial monetarist policies blighted Britain, ushering in the highest unemployment rate since the war.
Unfortunately for Foot, the Labour party split in 1981 as the “gang of four” departed to form the SDP, reducing Labour’s share of the vote. This was followed in 1982 by the attack on the Falkland Islands by General Galtieri, galvanised the nation behind the once reviled Thatcher. The "Iron Lady" went on to win the 1983 election with a landslide, leaving Foot to ponder what could have been.
Trotsky, the theorist, the intellectual and the founder of the Red Army; Lenin’s right-hand man who seemed destined to lead the party having secured a Bolshevik victory in the 1921 Russian civil war. However, it was not to be. After Lenin died in 1924, Stalin took control of the country, expelling Trotsky from the Communists in 1927 after he led the opposition to Koba’s growing stranglehold on the SoViet state.
In 1929, Trotsky was exiled from Russia, but continued his opposition from Mexico. Stalin dispatched an assassin to South America in 1940, who promptly placed an ice pick through his head.
The 1964 U.S. general election pitted incumbent Lyndon Johnson against the unexpected Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, who had narrowly secured the GOP nomination against Nelson Rockefeller. Goldwater, who espoused a strong conservative rhetoric and a Libertarian ethos, was both hailed and condemned for his political intransigence, which led him to vote against the Civil Rights Act, while push for an increasing aggressive stance against the Soviet threat.
The Democrats painted Goldwater as a warmonger, who would lead the world into nuclear conflict, culminating in the infamous “daisy” political campaign advert, showing a young girl being blown up by an atomic bomb. Goldwater lost the election by a landslide, a defeat that routed the GOP who lost seats in both houses of Congress.
Ayman Nour was the first man to run for office against now-deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. After years of single-candidacy elections, international and domestic pressure forced Mubarak’s to amend the constitution and allow an opposition candidate to run in 2005.
Nour placed a distant second with 7 per cent of what was criticised as a corrupt vote, and was then promptly imprisoned on trumped-up charges of forgery for his trouble. Nour remained in jail until 2009 when declining health and growing U.S. condemnation secured his release. Nour stated that he was interested in running for the top job after Mubarak’s demise in 2011, but a campaign failed to materialise.
Correction: An earlier version of this article cited an incorrect date for the "Winter of discontent".