Amlo: How often do world leaders take a pay cut?

By Reality Check team
BBC News

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Mexico's incoming president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known by his initials Amlo) plans to take a 60% pay cut when he takes office in December.

The winning left-wing candidate will now earn a salary equivalent to about $5,707 (£4,310) a month and no other public official will be able to earn more than him.

Mr López Obrador said the official residence, Los Pinos, will become a cultural centre.

The Mexican politician is certainly not the first leader to make the statement of lowering his or her salary.

It's a populist gesture often used to demonstrate that a leader of a country is in touch with the people, putting distance between themselves and the elite, says Dr Philipp Koeker at the Leibniz University, Hannover, who has studied presidential salaries in Europe.

Reality Check has looked at some of the countries where this has happened before.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Uruguay's Jose Mujica being interviewed at his house in 2014

Allowances and expenses mean there can be differences between the official salary and what the prime minister or president actually earns so it's not always easy to know the total income.

But there are still significant gaps in the basic salaries of leaders around the world.

The Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is said to be the highest earner - paid more than $2m (£1.5m) a year. That amount is tied to the highest salaries in the country's private sector.

British Prime Minister Theresa May earns about £150,000 a year, less than German Chancellor Angela Merkel who earns closer to £200,000 whereas Chinese President Xi Jinping is said to earn just $22,000 (£16,600) a year.

Who else has taken a pay cut?

Uruguay's Jose Mujica in power until 2015, labelled the world's poorest president, gave away 90% of his monthly salary, which was about £7,500.

Although many leaders have forgone part of their earnings, they've still enjoyed the exclusive perks of the job.

However, Mr Mujica drove an old Volkswagen Beetle and chose to live in a farmhouse instead of the presidential residence.

Also in the region, Evo Morales the president of Bolivia, reduced his salary to about £1,000 a month when he took power in 2005. He was fulfilling an election campaign promise.

In Bolivia, no public sector employee is allowed to earn more than the president, which meant at the time there were pay reviews across the government.

In 2015, the then president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, under fire for the country's widespread economic challenges, ordered mass cuts to government jobs and a 10% reduction to her own salary to about $90,000 (£68,000) a year.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff

A 10% cut to the salaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his staff was announced in 2015 amid rising food prices and Western sanctions.

Mr Putin declared an income of 18.73m roubles (£226,444) in 2017. More than half of this amount came from the sale of a property in the Moscow area.

South Africa's new president Cyril Ramaphosa said he intends to cut his salary in half, which means about £100,000 will be distributed through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. A former businessman and one of South Africa's richest men Mr Ramaphosa reportedly has a fortune of more than $400m.

The presidential salary in Nigeria was $70,000 (£53,000) before Muhammadu Buhari and his vice president agreed to a 50% pay cut at the beginning of his term in 2015.

Going back further, in the 1980s the former president of Burkina Faso Thomas Sankara took a monthly wage of $450 and banned the use of chauffeur-driven cars and first class airline tickets by his ministers, according to the Guardian.

Who doesn't take a salary?

The current Slovakian president, Andrej Kiska, who entered politics a rich man, donates his entire salary to a charity.

In 2013, the Slovakian president had received a monthly salary of more than $9,000 (£6,800).

It was the highest in central and eastern Europe at the time, according to an analysis by Dr Koeker.

Donald Trump has followed in the footsteps of other US presidents by donating most of his salary to charity and only taking $1 a year. Herbert Hoover and John F Kennedy made the same symbolic gesture. American presidents earn about $400,000 (£320,000) a year.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists at a news conference in March 2017 that Mr Trump wanted the help of the media to decide where the salary should be donated.

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