Ever since the position was founded in 1707, there have been 35 Ministers for Magic: witches and wizards who are elected to run the Ministry of Magic and govern wizarding Britain. There have been good Ministers for Magic, there have been bad Ministers for Magic, there have been competent, average and totally fine Ministers for Magic. But every now and again, the wizarding community elects someone who makes history – and sometimes not for brilliant reasons. Here are the five best and five worst of them.
A charismatic leader, Maximilian Crowdy was one of the earliest Ministers for Magic to stamp down on anti-Muggle sentiment. Taking office in 1770, his tenure followed a turbulent period of revolts from magical beings (quelled by his predecessor Hesphaestus Gore) and anti-Muggle sentiment; this had been strengthened by anti-Muggle Ministers such as Damocles Rowle in 1718, and then Perseus Parkinson in 1726. Under Crowdy’s charge, however, the Ministry rooted out several groups of pure-blood extremists, all planning attacks on Muggle society. His mysterious death in office has been the subject of numerous books and conspiracy theories.
History remembers Artemisia Lufkin as the first female Minister for Magic; she was elected following 91 years of the position being filled by men. But that’s unfair. For her most notable achievement was establishing the Department of International Magical Co-operation, a division of the Ministry of Magic: a noble ideal in a time of disharmony. As proof of her determination, she also lobbied hard for the Quidditch World Cup to be held in Britain during her tenure – and was successful. She was so much more than just a statistic.
While Muggles had Prime Minister Winston Churchill to guide them through World War II, the magical counterpart was Leonard Spencer-Moon. For as Muggles tore themselves apart, so did wizards, who faced conflict with legendary Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Spencer-Moon had a good working relationship with Churchill, who like him was a steady hand through a turbulent time, one that came to an end after the intervention of Albus Dumbledore.
The First Wizarding War claimed the lives of many victims, and also saw the death of a few political careers. Eugenia Jenkins and Harold Minchum were both voted out after their failure to stop Lord Voldemort during their tenures for Minister for Magic. Minchum’s successor, Millicent Bagnold, fared better; she took charge at the height of the First Wizarding War and was still in power when Voldemort fell a year later, like a wizarding Winston Churchill.
Now Bagnold, of course, had little to do with Voldemort’s actual downfall (that was a freak occurrence that no one could ever have seen coming), but her defining moment in office did arise from the night he was defeated. For Britain, on a high, experienced numerous breaches of the International Statute of Secrecy, mostly from witches and wizards celebrating their V-Day. Called to the International Confederation of Wizards to justify the breaches, she acquitted herself with the now infamous words: ‘I assert our inalienable right to party.’
From there, she went on to oversee the arrests of numerous Death Eaters, before retiring in 1990, the year before Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts.
Ulick Gamp became Britain’s first-ever Minister for Magic in a time of fear, chaos and confusion.
Prior to Gamp – prior to the Ministry of Magic – the British wizarding government was fragmented and disorganised, with decisions mostly coming from a body known as the Wizards’ Council. That changed, however, with the International Statute of Secrecy in 1692, a law that required witches and wizards to conceal themselves from Muggles, who had spent the past few centuries persecuting anyone suspected of magical ability. In order to support, regulate and communicate with a community in hiding, however, wizarding Britain needed a government structure of immense size, organisation and complexity – and a Minster at the top of it all – to ensure that it worked.
Previously head of wizarding Britain’s high court of law, the Wizengamot, Gamp had the tough task of not only guiding the magical community through a period of profound change, but essentially building a governmental structure from scratch. His greatest legacy, one which still lives on today, is the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Some Ministers for Magic are not bad because they’re malicious or evil – some are simply rubbish. This was the case with Albert Boot, who’s remembered by history as likeable but inept, having mismanaged a goblin rebellion in the 18th century. His failure would end up carrying over to the next Minister, Basil Flack, who lasted two months after the goblins joined forces with werewolves. It then took Hesphaestus Gore, elected after Flack, to successfully put down the revolts.
The short-lived tenure of Ignatius Tuft seemed to be the result of some heavy nepotism; he rode the popularity of his mother, predecessor Wilhelmina Tuft, to be elected Minister for Magic in the late 1950s. He didn’t last long, however, and was kicked out after his proposed Dementor breeding program ended up being overwhelmingly unpopular.
Not much is known about Josephina Flint, but what is known is not good. As an on-off period of Muggle prejudice in the 1700s showed signs of clearing up for the better, Josephina Flint came to power to inflict a new age of anti-Muggle paranoia. A pure-blood herself with an ‘unhealthy anti-Muggle bias’, Josephina was known to dislike Muggle technology such as the telegraph, as she feared it would interfere with wands.
On the surface, that adorable bowler hat and bumbling personality seemed charming on Cornelius Fudge, who became Minister for Magic at the beginning of the 1990s, and ended his tenure abruptly during Lord Voldemort’s return to power.
Although having to govern through the ascent of a previously-thought-vanquished Dark wizard seems a little on the unlucky side, it was the way Fudge handled Lord Voldemort’s resurrection that places him so highly on this list. Cornelius caused his own downfall after he decided to deny that Lord Voldemort had returned, and led a smear campaign against Harry Potter instead.
This was the apex of a huge series of slip-ups from the Minister, including sending the wrong man (Hagrid) to Azkaban during the opening of the Chamber of Secrets; sending Dementors to Hogwarts during Harry’s third year; befriending Death Eaters, such as Lucius Malfoy; and turning his back on Albus Dumbledore, the one man who could’ve helped him during such a dark and difficult time.
Fudge may not have been a deadly force himself, but his denial of deadly forces turned out to be just as dangerous.
A dark cloud moved over the wizarding world in the early 1700s, with anti-Muggle feeling hanging high in the air, and the conception of Azkaban prison terrifying the wizarding community. Two consecutive leaders played their part in this stormy period, which is why we award them joint first place for worst Minister for Magic ever.
First there was Damocles Rowle, a sadistic man with a ‘tough on Muggles’ mentality. After he was elected to power, Rowle scuppered plans for a new wizard prison and instead proposed Azkaban: a derelict fortress on a lonely island once occupied by a Muggle-torturing madman. So far, so good. Rowle decided this Dementor-infested jail would be the ideal place to send criminal witches and wizards, and so began one of the most heinous wizarding establishments imaginable, known for plunging its prisoners into insanity or despair.
Continuing Rowle’s reign was Perseus Parkinson, who attempted to legitimise anti-Muggle attitudes by suggesting a law that would make it illegal for Muggles and magical folk to marry. Despite the wizarding community’s initial anger at Muggles for driving them to secrecy, this was deemed a step too far. Tired of the divide between the magical and the non-magical, everyone promptly voted him out.