A resignation is the formal act of giving up or quitting one's office or position. It can also refer to the act of admitting defeat in a game like chess, indicated by the resigning player declaring "I resign", turning his king on its side, extending his hand, or stopping the chess clock. [Law 5.1 of the [ FIDE Laws of Chess] provides that, "The game is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns." However, "In international play very few masters actually say the words 'I resign.' Some tap their king on the board as a sign of concession. Other just extend their hand for a shake to signify surrender. Others simply stop their side of the chess clock." Andy Soltis, "Chess to Enjoy", Stein and Day, 1978, p. 60. ISBN 0-8128-6059-4.] A resignation can occur when a person holding a position gained by election or appointment steps down, but leaving a position upon the expiration of a term is not considered resignation. When an employee chooses to leave a position it is considered a resignation, as opposed to termination, which occurs when the employee involuntarily loses a job. Whether an employee resigned or was terminated is sometimes a topic of dispute, because in many situations a terminated employee is eligible for severance pay and/or unemployment benefits, whereas one who voluntarily resigns may not be eligible. Abdication is the equivalent of resignation of a reigning monarch or pope, or other holder of a non-political, hereditary or similar position.

A resignation is a personal decision to exit a position, though outside pressure exists in many cases. For example, Richard Nixon resigned from the office of President of the United States in 1974 following the Watergate scandal, when he was almost certain to have been impeached by the United States Congress.

Resignation can be used politically, as in the Philippines during July 2005 when ten cabinet officials resigned in order to put pressure on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to do the same over allegations of electoral fraud. Alternatively, resignation as a procedure may be used as a political manoeuvre. In 1995, the British Prime Minister, John Major, resigned as Leader of the Conservative Party in order to contest a leadership election with the aim of silencing his critics within the party and reasserting his authority. Having resigned, he stood again and was re-elected.

Although government officials may tender their resignations, they are not always accepted. This could be a gesture of confidence in the official, as with US President George W. Bush's refusal of his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's twice-offered resignation during the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. However, refusing a resignation can be a method of severe censure if it is followed by dismissal; Alberto Fujimori attempted to resign as President of Peru but his resignation was refused in order that Congress could fire him.

For many public figures, primarily departing politicians, resignation is an opportunity to deliver a valedictory resignation speech in which they can elucidate the circumstances of their exit from office and in many cases deliver a powerful speech which often commands much attention. This can be used to great political effect, particularly as, subsequent to resigning, government ministers are no longer bound by collective responsibility and can speak with greater freedom about current issues.

List of notable resignations

Prior to 2000

* 1795 - John Jay, Chief Justice of the United States.
* 1800 - Oliver Ellsworth, Chief Justice of the United States.
* 1817 - Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of New York.
* 1829 - Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York.
* 1832 - John C. Calhoun, Vice President of the United States.
* 1848 - Francis R. Shunk, Governor of Pennsylvania.
* 1851 - Peter Hardeman Burnett, Governor of California.
* 1885 - Grover Cleveland, Governor of New York.
* 1898 - John W. Griggs, Governor of New Jersey.
* 1910 - Charles Evans Hughes, Governor of New York.
* 1912 - Sun Yat-sen, Provisional President of China, in favor of Yuan Shikai.
* 1913 - Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New Jersey.
* 1942 - Herbert H. Lehman, Governor of New York.
* 1947 - Edward Martin, Governor of Pennsylvania.
* 1947 - Walter E. Edge, Governor of New Jersey.
* 1960 - John F. Kennedy, United States Senator, resigned to take office as President of the United States.
* 1963 - John Profumo, British Secretary of State for War, after misleading the British House of Commons in relation to his controversial personal life.
* 1969 - Charles de Gaulle, President of France, following defeat in a constitutional referendum.
* 1973 -
**Spiro T. Agnew, Vice President of the United States, over allegations of financial irregularities.
**Gerald R. Ford, United States Congressman, resigned to take office as Vice President of the United States.
**Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York.
* 1974 -
**Richard Nixon, President of the United States, after becoming mired in the Watergate scandal.
**Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany.
* 1976 - Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, President of Ireland, after a falling out with the Irish Government.
* 1984 - Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
* 1986 - Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines
* 1990 -
**Geoffrey Howe, British Deputy Prime Minister, over differences with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over government policy on the European single currency.
**Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, after narrowly failing to win the first round of a leadership contest.
* 1991 - Albert Reynolds, Irish Minister for Finance.
* 1991 - Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the USSR.
* 1992 - Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas, resigned to take office as President of the United States.
* 1993 - Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada, retiring from politics.
* 1994 -
**Morihiro Hosokawa, Prime Minister of Japan.
**Tsutomu Hata, Prime Minister of Japan.
**Joycelyn Elders, Surgeon General of the United States.
* 1995 - John Major, British Prime Minister (resigning as leader of the Conservative Party).
* 1996 - Albert Zafy, President of Madagascar, facing impeachment (September 5).
* 1997 -
**Fife Symington, Governor of Arizona.
**Sir Julius Chan, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, due to the Sandline affair (March 26).
**Sali Berisha, President of Albania, after the collapse of the government's economic pyramid schemes (July 23).
* 1998 -
**Suharto, 2nd President of Indonesia, ending three decades of the New Order period.
**Levon Ter-Petrossian, President of Armenia (February 3).
* 1999 -
**Raúl Cubas Grau, President of Paraguay, facing impeachment (March 28).
**Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Federation, retiring from politics (December 31).


*George W. Bush, Governor of Texas, resigned to take office as President of the United States.
*Alberto Fujimori, President of Peru, in a letter sent from Japan; the resignation is not accepted by Congress which instead declares the president "morally unfit" and removes him from office effective November 22.


*Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, to take office as Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency
*Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgian Minister for Justice.
*Tom Ridge, Governor of Pennsylvania, to become the first Secretary of Homeland Security
*Henry McLeish, First Minister of Scotland, over allegations of improper financial dealings.
*Hugo Banzer Suárez, President of Bolivia, due to ill health (August 7).
*Fernando de la Rúa, President of Argentina, during riots prompted by an economic crisis (December 20); and Adolfo Rodríguez Saá, de la Rúa's interim successor (resignation declared December 30 and accepted January 1, 2002).


*Cassam Uteem, President of Mauritius, declaring his refusal to sign controversial anti-terrorism legislation (February 15); Vice President Angidi Chettiar, who became acting president, also resigns for the same reason (February 18).


*Robin Cook, British Leader of the House of Commons (formerly Foreign Secretary), over his opposition to the UK's involvement in the invasion of Iraq.
*Clare Short, British Secretary of State for International Development, resigned because of the Iraq war.
*Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
*Charles G. Taylor, President of Liberia, went to exile in Nigeria after being charged for war crimes.
*Eduard Shevardnadze, President of Georgia, after extensive public demonstrations against him
*Mahathir bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, retiring from politics.
*Freddy Matungulu, Minister of Finance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on grounds of ethical divergence from the larger government.
*Peter Hollingworth, Governor-General of Australia, in response to an accusation of mishandling a sexual abuse case during his term as Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane (eff. May 28).
*Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Prime Minister of Finland (June 18).
*Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, President of Bolivia, during massive protests against the government's economic policy (October 17).
*Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada, retiring from politics. (December 12).


*George Tenet, Director of US Central Intelligence , officially for 'personal reasons', resigned after criticism of the CIA's approach to intelligence used to support the 2003 Iraq War.
*James McGreevey, Governor of New Jersey, after being mired in Pay to Play and extortion scandals
*François Lonseny Fall, Prime Minister of Guinea, who went into exile after his resignation (April 30).


*Tom DeLay, Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, from his leadership position while under investigation.
*Michael D. Brown, Director of Federal Emergency Management Agency, after heavy criticism of his handling of emergency management operations in the wake of hurricane Katrina.
*Greg Sorbara, Finance Minister of Ontario, resigned while under investigation.
*David Blunkett, British Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, resigning after breaking the ministerial code of conduct regarding private business appointments, becoming the second minister to resign twice from the Blair government.
*Faure Gnassingbé, President of Togo, after succeeding his late father Gnassingbé Eyadéma in a process deemed unconstitutional by the international community (February 25); National Assembly speaker Abass Bonfoh became acting president until Faure was legitimately elected to the presidency on April 24.
*Stanislav Gross, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (April 9).
*The resignation of Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev, forced from office on March 24, is formally accepted by the nation's Parliament (April 11).
*Omar Karami, Prime Minister of Lebanon, after failing to form a new government (April 13); he previously resigned February 28.
*Ronald Gajraj, home minister of Guyana, accused of overseeing "phantom death squads" (April 30).
*Michael Howard, British Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the British Conservative Party after losing the general election (May 6)
*Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Prime Minister of France, after French voters rejected the government-supported referendum on the European Constitution (May 31).
*Carlos Mesa, President of Bolivia (resignation offered June 6 and accepted by Congress June 9).
*Abdul-Halim Khaddam, Vice President of Syria (June 6).
*Zokirjon Almatov, interior minister of Uzbekistan, after the government's crackdown in Andijan (December 22).
*Pierluigi Collina, Italian FIFA football referee, from all refereeing, after being disbarred from officiating in top-flight matches in Italy following the signing of his unauthorised sponsorship deal with Opel vehicles (August).


*Charles Kennedy, leader of the British Liberal Democrats, under pressure from his party after admitting an alcohol problem.
*Prince Lavaka Ata 'Ulukalala, Prime Minister of Tonga, after public demonstrations in favour of reducing royal influence in politics.
*Porter Goss, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. No explanation was given; Goss referred to his decision as "just one of those mysteries".
*Ayaan Hirsi Ali, member of the lower house of the Dutch parliament.
*Laila Freivalds, Swedish foreign minister, in response to a number of scandals including her ministry's perceived inadequate response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (March 21).
*Snyder Rini, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, facing riots after only eight days in office (April 26).
*Mari Alkatiri, Prime Minister of East Timor, during the 2006 East Timorese crisis (June 26).
*United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, after the opposition party took control of the US House of Representatives in midterm elections and was on course to secure control of the Senate (3 November).
*Michael Chong, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. Resigned from cabinet in response to the government declaring the Québécois a nation within Canadian Confederation.
*Michael Grade, chairman of the BBC, to join the ITV network (28 November). [ [ BBC press release announcing Grade's resignation] , 28 November 2006.]


*Iajuddin Ahmed, President of Bangladesh, in his capacity as chief adviser during the 2006–2007 Bangladeshi political crisis (January 11).
*Borys Tarasyuk, Ukrainian foreign minister (January 30).
*Romano Prodi, Italian Prime Minister, after losing a vote of no confidence. His resignation was rejected by the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano (21 February).
*Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stepped down as leader of the Labour Party on (27 June), during his third term. [ [ BBC press release announcing Blair's resignation] , 10 May 2007.] Deputy Leader John Prescott and Home Secretary John Reid, and several other Cabinet ministers, followed suit, including Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and Justice Secretary Lord Falconer
*Su Tseng-Chang, Taiwanese Prime Minister, after failing to secure election as his party's candidate for the 2008 presidential election (12 May). [ [ BBC News Online] , 12 May 2007] .
*Hani al-Qawasmi, Interior Minister of Palestine, after the security situation in Gaza worsened (14 May) [ [ BBC News Online] , 14 May 2007.]
*Paul Wolfowitz, President of the World Bank, due to the Shaha Riza scandal (17 May).
*Alberto Gonzales, United States Attorney General
*Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan announced September 2007.
*Mike Johanns, United States Secretary of Agriculture, resigned to run for the Senate
*Peter Fincham, BBC One controller, after a row about the portrayal of the Queen in a preview (5 October). [citeweb
title=BBC boss quits in Queen row | date=5 October 2007
*Sir Menzies Campbell, Leader of the British Liberal Democrats, citing questions about his leadership (15 October) [citeweb
title=Campbell quits Lib Dem leadership
date=15 October 2007
author=Christopher Adams


*Peter Hain, British Work and Pensions and Wales Secretary, after the Electoral Commission referred investigations over political funding to the Police (January 24).
*Romano Prodi, Italian Prime Minister, after losing a motion of no confidence in the Senate (January 24).
*Bob Irwin, father of Steve Irwin, resigned from Australia Zoo (March 2).
*Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York, after claims of involvement in a prostitution ring (March 17)
*David Davis, Shadow Home Secretary and MP, in disagreement over the proposal to detain terror suspects in the UK for 42 days without trial.(12 June)

ee also


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  • résignation — [ reziɲasjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1265 1270 dr. « abandon volontaire d un droit »; de résigner 1 ♦ Vx Abandon. La résignation de soi même, de sa volonté. ⇒ abdication, renonciation (à). « La résignation qui nous est la plus difficile est celle de notre… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • resignation — res‧ig‧na‧tion [ˌrezɪgˈneɪʆn] noun [countable, uncountable] JOBS when someone officially states that they want to leave their job, position etc: • The board accepted their resignations, along with that of the vice chairman. • The finance… …   Financial and business terms

  • resignation — Resignation. s. f. v. Demission volontaire d un office, d un benefice en faveur de quelqu un. Faire resignation d un office, d un benefice. donner sa resignation en blanc. il n a pas voulu accepter la resignation qu on luy avoit faite. le Pape a… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Resignation — (von lat. re signare das Feldzeichen (signum) senken, kapitulieren; seine Unterschrift zurückziehen, widerrufen; vgl. Pease, s.u.) bezeichnet (etwa seit Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts) die menschliche Haltung bzw. Gestimmtheit des Sichfügens… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • resignation — I (passive acceptance) noun acquiescence, animus submissus, capitulation, deference, docility, endurance, fatalism, forbearance, fortitude, lack of complaint, lack of resistance, longanimity, meekness, nonresistance, obedience, passiveness,… …   Law dictionary

  • Resignation — ist kein Nihilismus; Resignation führt ihre Perspektiven bis an den Rand des Dunkels, aber sie bewahrt Haltung auch vor diesem Dunkel. «Gottfried Benn, Marginalien» Nichts ist erbärmlicher als die Resignation, die zu früh kommt. «Marie von Ebner… …   Zitate - Herkunft und Themen

  • Resignation — Res ig*na tion (r[e^]z [i^]g*n[=a] sh[u^]n), n. [F. r[ e]signation. See {Resign}.] 1. The act of resigning or giving up, as a claim, possession, office, or the like; surrender; as, the resignation of a crown or commission. [1913 Webster] 2. The… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • resignation — late 14c., act of resigning (an office, etc.), from Fr. résignation (14c.), from M.L. resignationem, from L. resignare (see RESIGN (Cf. resign)). Meaning submission, acquiescence is from 1640s …   Etymology dictionary

  • resignation — [n1] relinquishment of responsibility abandonment, abdication, departure, giving up, leaving, notice, quitting, renunciation, retirement, surrender, tendering, termination, vacating, withdrawal; concepts 119,195,351 Ant. agreement, taking on… …   New thesaurus

  • resignation — Resignation, Eiuratio. On ne peut impetrer l office d un homme vivant, sinon par resignation, ou forfaicture, Petere magistratum perpetuum in locum viuentis non licet, nisi vltro se abdicantis vel noxae damnati commissoriae. B …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • resignation — [rez΄ig nā′shən] n. [ME < MFr resignation < ML resignatio] 1. a) the act of resigning b) formal notice of this, esp. in writing 2. patient submission; passive acceptance; acquiescence …   English World dictionary

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