Be it corruption, lack of political acumen, financial mismanagement or changing times, governments do not always work out. While some governments act in
10. Collapse of the Soviet Union
In 1985, a liberal-leaning Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in the Soviet Union and put a dagger into the old dictatorial Russian ways. Gorbachev was nothing like any of his predecessors. He actually promoted individual freedom instead of suppression. He saw that the Soviet Union was weakening and it needed change. Despite a lot of opposition, Gorbachev allowed many countries in the former Union to oust their communist leaders and become independent. In the end, there were 15 newly independent states.
9. The Fall of Ancient Greece
When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC the Greek Empire was very powerful. Under his father’s reign, the Greek Empire was unified and Alexander was able to expand the empire further with his many conquests. After Alexander’s death, the Empire was handed to his power-hungry generals who unwisely turned Greece into a collection of city states. Under this chaotic system, the city states began fighting with each other and would not unite against a common enemy. This allowed the powerful Romans to take advantage of the weakened Greek city states and in 146 BC the Romans sacked Corinth marking the beginning of Roman rule over Greece.
By late 1989, the people of Romania decided that they’d had enough of Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime. The last straw was Ceausescu’s attempt to have László Tőkés, a Hungarian pastor, evicted for making anti-government comments on Hungarian television. Tőkés sensible criticism rapidly spread through Romania and sparked a violent uprising. The military and other government insiders quickly changed their allegiances from supporting Ceausescu to supporting the revolting masses. Nicolae and his wife fled Bucharest on December 22nd only to be captured on Christmas Day. They were charged with numerous violations, including genocide, and tried by a military tribunal. They were found guilty and executed within the hour thus ending his nearly 25-year regime of tyranny.
7. People Power Revolution
Between 1983 and 1986, the people of the Philippines rose up against the corrupt dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos’ reign of corruption and violence began in 1965 when he was elected President in a narrow victory. He was re-elected in 1969 and he continued to line his own pockets and marginalize opponents. Being barred from holding office for a third term, Marcos did what most good dictators do. He declared martial law, arrested or killed opponents, and held on to his brutal regime for another 14 years. Under increasing international pressure, Marcos called an election for 1986. The election was of course marked by corruption, intimidation, and murder. Marcos and opponent Corazon Aquino were both declared winners. After many more demonstrations, alliance shifts, and arrests, Marcos saw that his time was up and he fled the country with his family. The Philippine people were jubilant and Corazon Aquino restored democracy ending over 20 years of Marcos tyranny.
6. Egyptian Revolution
King Farouk is a prime example of gluttony. As a thin 16-year-old, he inherited the Egyptian throne. About 16 years later he was a rich, bloated and detached King who was popularly criticized. Known for being extremely corruptible and living beyond lavish, he was also considered a bit lazy. By the end of his reign, he had fallen out of favor with the people as well as with his army which he reportedly armed with defective weapons. A successful coup was plotted and carried out on July 22nd, 1952. When it was over, the King had tearfully abdicated and was forced to leave the country. The country abolished the Monarchy and became a republic making this event one of the Top 10 Biggest Government Collapses.
5. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar was a great military leader. He had won many battles and was well liked by his people. As a ruler, Caesar brought in many needed reforms that were well received. He tackled the problem of street violence and unemployment by undertaking several public work projects which provided jobs and boosted the morale of Rome’s citizens. Unfortunately, he grew arrogant and this, along with some of his policies, bred discontent within the Senate and political circles. After declaring himself “dictator for life”, an unconstitutional act, Caesar’s political rivals were worried that Caesar intended to overthrow the powerful Senate and subject Rome to tyranny. On March 15th, 44 BC, his senators surrounded him a stabbed him to death, effectively ending the Roman Republic.
4. Cuban Revolution
Fulgencio Batista had served as the Cuban President from 1940-1944 before “retiring” to the United States. Bored of retirement, Batista returned to Cuba in 1952 and seized power in a military coup after realizing that he would not be democratically elected. At the same time, Fidel Castro and his band of revolutionaries began staging unsuccessful attacks on key targets. As time went on the revolutionary movement under Castro gained a lot of momentum. Two rigged elections later, Batista found himself clinging desperately to power. He was soon on the run as the revolutionaries had gained overwhelming support from the Cuban population. On December 31, 1958, he finally accepted that his Presidency (dictatorship) was finished and he fled the country with over $300 million dollars. After a bit of jockeying and politicking, Castro was sworn in as Cuban President in February 1959 officially signaling the start of a quasi-socialist regime.
3. Nazi Germany
During the 1930’s and into the 1940’s Germany appeared to be indestructible. The Nazi Party had a firm grip on the ever expanding empire. They had conquered most of Europe by 1940 and the Germans appeared poised to quickly conquer what was left including Great Britain and Russia. Fortunately, the Nazi leaders decided to invade Russia in 1942 which proved to be the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime. The Germans suffered massive losses in Russia. The Russians pushed the diminished German army to the west. Meanwhile, on June 6th, 1944, the Allies landed in Normandy and the Nazis were on the run. Being an eternal optimist, the Nazis refused to surrender causing further needless bloodshed. Many of the Nazi leaders relegated to hiding in their bunkers while Berlin was destroyed. Rather than face capture by the fast approaching Russians and Allies, many committed suicide capping off one of the Top 10 Biggest Government Collapses.
2. Russian Revolution
The fall of the Russian Monarchy is one of the Top 10 Biggest Government Collapses ever. Nicholas II, Russia’s last Tsar, did not do much to endear himself to his people. Russia’s armies had been soundly defeated in the Russo-Japanese War and they took staggering losses in World War I. The economy was in terrible shape, morale was down and civil unrest was peaking to the point of Russia’s army switching support to the revolutionaries. Nicholas was forced to abdicate his throne before he and his entire family were imprisoned and later put to death. The Russian Monarchy was finished after a long and often controversial reign. After a brief political struggle, Vladimir Lenin would transform the government and lead the country forward.
1. The French Revolution
Unpopular taxes, famine, and crushing debt were major factors leading up to the French Revolution and the demise of the French Monarchy. King Louis XVI and his ruling elite were living extravagant lifestyles much to the chagrin of the poor and starving masses. On July 14th, 1789, tempers finally boiled over and a large angry mob stormed the Bastille, a fortress, and prison that was seen as a symbol of aristocratic power. King Louis XVI desperately tried to save his regime but his misguided efforts only made things worse. He quickly lost his political clout and was finally arrested for treason on August 13th, 1792. The Monarchy was officially abolished soon after resulting in France becoming a republic. Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were both infamously executed making this event one of the Top 10 Biggest Government Collapses.