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Inaugurations around the Globe

Every four years, we turn our attention to our nation's capital for the familiar sights (and sounds) of presidential pomp and circumstance....

Every four years, we turn our attention to our nation's capital for the familiar sights (and sounds) of presidential pomp and circumstance. There are oaths, addresses, and, more recently, final trips in presidential choppers. But these formalities aren't universal. So, just for fun, GOOD looks at five inaugurations of the other leaders of the free world.


MexicoIn certain circumstances, one doesn't even need to be elected to hold an inauguration. Take the case of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the left-wing Mexican presidential candidate who lost the country's 2006 election to Felipé Calderón by less than a percentage point. After the election, Obrador held his own inauguration in Mexico City, standing before hundreds of thousands of supporters and pledging not only to keep the election's winner (Calderón) on a short leash, but also to establish a parallel government. To date, he refuses to acknowledge the presidency of Calderón.

FranceDuring most inaugurations, the passing of the torch from one leader to the next is an entirely symbolic occurrence. Two years ago in France, however, a very literal power transfer took place: the handing over of the nation's nuclear codes. Just before President Nicolas Sarkozy was sworn it, he and out-going leader Jacques Chirac met behind closed doors of Elysee Palace for 30 minutes, after which he bid Chirac adieu and, probably, felt a great deal stronger.

RussiaSay what you want about the state of democracy in Russia. Sure, Vladmir Putin pretty much strong armed his choice of successor, Dmitry Medvedev, into the executive office with his notoriously strong arms (and electoral sway). And yes, during the inauguration, Medvedev took his oath with his hand atop a conspicuously red copy of the country's constitution. And, it's true, no members of the foreign press were granted access to the ceremony. But damn if the event wasn't well timed: it was followed immediately by an anniversary parade commemorating the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany.

Pakistan From time to time, inaugurations transpire without a lot of fanfare-or, at least, without a lot of foreign fans. Last fall in Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was sworn in as President of the increasingly embattled nation. During the inauguration, he recited the customary oath-which begins "I ___ solemnly swear that I am a Muslim,"-and promised to fight tirelessly beside Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the war on terror. It was the only name he really needed to drop, because Karzai was the only foreign leader in attendance.

The Vatican The grandest of all inaugurations is, of course, that of a new pope. The smoke. The secrecy. The robes. But did you know that each inauguration used to include an actual coronation? Indeed, there used to be a crown-the papal tiara-that was placed atop the brow of the incoming head of the Catholic Church. The centuries-old practice of crowning the pope ended afterPope Paul IV symbolically donated the tiara to the poor (and literally donated it to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.) in 1968. The three popes since have done without the crown.(Image from MiMundo)

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