Brian Bernard Cowen (born 10 January 1960) is an Irish former politician who served as Taoiseach and Leader of Fianna Fáil from 2008 to 2011. Cowen was elected to Dáil Éireann in 1984, for the constituency of Laois–Offaly and served in a number of ministerial roles, including Minister for Labour from 1992 to 1993, Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications from 1993 to 1994, Minister for Health and Children from 1997 to 2000, Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2000 to 2004, Minister for Finance from 2004 to 2008 and Tánaiste from 2007 to 2008.Cowen was elected Leader of Fianna Fáil in May 2008, upon the resignation of Bertie Ahern, and was nominated by Dáil Éireann to replace him as Taoiseach. Weeks after taking office, his administration faced the Irish financial and banking crises. He received substantial criticism for his failure to stem the tide of either crisis, ultimately culminating in the Irish Government’s formal request for financial aid from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which was widely regarded in Ireland as a national humiliation. His leadership subsequently saw public support for Fianna Fáil plunge to record lows, and Cowen set a record for the lowest approval rating in the history of Irish opinion polling, at one point reaching an approval rating of 8 percent. In January 2011, following a failed attempt at a cabinet reshuffle, and facing growing political pressure, Cowen resigned as Leader of Fianna Fáil, but remained as Taoiseach until after the general election held the following month; Cowen stood down from politics at that election and left office as Taoiseach a fortnight later.The Sunday Times described Cowen’s tenure as Taoiseach as ″a dismal failure″. In 2011, the Irish Independent called Cowen the ″worst Taoiseach in the history of the State″.