Just Another Politico On the Wall: A Brief Survey of World Leaders in Graffiti


Presidential candidates will spend billions of dollars on advertising next year. Digital, print, radio, and — most costly — TV, will be plastered in faces you’ll already be wholly sick of seeing. It’s refreshing, then, that one of the most striking avenues for advertising is (illegally) free and (for the most part) owned by the people: walls.

Graffiti artist Hanksy’s (yes, Hanksy‘s) latest effort showcases the power a single image on our street can have; in this case, a steaming turd with Donald Trump’s screaming face superimposed upon it. Its simplicity is its brilliance. Donald Trump. Shit. Together. It needs no other words.

Around the world, and across the decades, people have picked up spray cans to vent their anger, or in some cases reverence, for those who govern them. Browse a selection graffiti depicting political leaders, while hoping Trump never reaches that status:

Angela Merkel’s visit to Portugal in 2012 caused enough security concern to have the country’s airspace shut down for the day. This piece — painted in central Portugal days before Merkel’s visit — conveys the feeling that Merkel was playing Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho, and Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas like puppets on a string.

Some of the biggest fears of Labor voters in Britain before their election earlier this year surrounded what David Cameron and his Tory party would do to the NHS (short for National Health Service, Britain’s socialized health system). Here we see Cameron choking an NHS nurse with the slogan, “Safe in his hands?”

With her aggressive foreign policy and privatization of state-owned companies, Margaret Thatcher didn’t exactly ingratiate herself with the working class during her time as British Prime Minister. This piece — stating “Burn in hell Maggie” — gets the message across; it appeared within days of her death. And just as quickly, it disappeared, painted over by the British Rail.

This tribute piece of former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez is not in Venezuela, but Paris. It includes a cute little cat (take note, propagandists: the addition of a cute cartoon cat never hurts) and the slogan, “Socialist fatherland or death.”

In the weeks leading up to the 2012 French elections, these ingenious stenciled pieces — which speak for themselves — started to crop up around the country. Sarkozy ended up losing the election by 2%.

Cynical or realist? This piece shows the half faces of Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak and military ruler Hussein Tantawi fading into the faces of the two 2012 presidential candidates, Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafik. The text beside the heads reads, “I will never give you peace.”

This stenciled depiction of Vladimir Putin casually snipping off the “R” in “revolution” was widely sprayed in Moscow after Putin hopped straight from the president’s chair into the prime minister’s chair in 2012.

By the end of delusional Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi’s reign, the walls of major towns in Libya were covered in caricatural images of Gaddafi in various ridiculous poses. Here we see him about to detonate a bomb tied to people, worn like a hate on his head, while saying, “They love me!”