2013-02-19    When should leaders resign?

Pope Benedict, aged 85, has announced he will resign on February 28.
He said his physical and mental condition were not strong enough for him to continue as leader of the Catholic Church.
His resignation has generated a lot of talk about when leaders should resign. Should they be allowed to keep going until they die, or until they "don't feel up to it", or should there be a fixed age when they should resign?

China's history, like that of many other nations, has lots of stories about emperors who, in the last years of their time in office, were incapacitated. As a result, government was run by others, sometimes unscrupulous others. Today China has a policy that top leaders must resign at 68.

Other countries have no fixed limit. Ronald Regan was 69 when he became President of the United States, and 77 when he finished his second term of office. Many company directors stay at the top till they are very old. Rupert Murdoch at 81 is a current example. Japan has special regard for aged leaders because of their experience and wisdom.

One of many jokes going around since Pope Benedict's announcement concerns Prince Charles who continues to see his dear mother going strongly at the age of 86.  According to the joke,  Charles showed his mother a newspaper headline of the pope's retirement and said simply "Mother, do you think the pope did the right thing?"!