A strongman is a political leader who rules by force and runs an authoritarian regime or totalitarian regime.

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The term is often used interchangeably with "dictator" in the western world, but differs from a "warlord" and commonly lacks the negative connotations especially in some Eastern European and Central Asian countries.

A warlord is a leader able to exercise military, economic, and political control over a subnational territory within a sovereign state due to his ability to mobilize loyal armed forces.

The Western world or the West is a term usually referring to different nations, depending on the context, most often including at least part of Europe.

A dictator is a ruler who wields absolute authority.



A strongman is not necessarily always a formal head of state or head of government; sometimes journalists use the term to describe a military or political figure who exercises far more influence over the government than a local constitution allows.

Head of government is a generic term used for either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony who often presides over a cabinet.

A head of state or Chief of State is the highest-ranking position in a sovereign state and is vested with powers to act as the chief public representative of that state.


General Manuel Noriega, for example, was often dubbed the "Strongman of Panama" for the enormous amount of political power he exercised over Panama, despite the fact that he was not the formal president or prime minister of the state.

Panama, officially called the Republic of Panama, is a country usually considered to be entirely in North America or Central America.

Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno was a Panamanian politician and military officer.


In practice, his role was that of a dictator.


Similarly, not every discussion of "strong leadership" envisages rule by a strongman.

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