Do Other Countries Have Donald Trumps?Posted: July 20, 2015
Of Course They Do
Adam Taylor writes: As America stumbles its way through the early stages of Donald Trump’s unlikely and uncomfortable bid for the presidency, some here are wondering what exactly Trump says about the nation.
“Do other national cultures create men like Donald Trump?” Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg asked on Twitter. “Asking for the United States.”
Goldberg probably asked that question in jest, but there may be real concern behind it. To many, Trump’s political career seems to combine three ugly undercurrents of US politics: the outsize role of money, the never-ending campaign season, and America’s embrace of reactionary celebrity figures.
So do other countries really have their own Donald Trumps? Well, yes, of course they do. When Goldberg asked his question, there was a flood of responses from foreign readers, who pointed to their own rich and rude political figures. Some comparisons don’t quite seem fair (you may dislike Dominique Strauss-Kahn or Nigel Farage, but their faults and virtues are different from Trump’s), many, many other suggestions did seem apt.
Trump is a product of American society, but he’s not unique. His mixture of murky wealth, extreme arrogance and vulgar chauvinism can be found all over the world, albeit with local spins. Here are just a handful of the world’s other Donald Trumps.
One of the best-known examples of a foreign Trump might be Silvio Berlusconi, the business magnate who was Italy’s prime minister for about nine years in total. Berlusconi, like Trump, espoused an entrepreneurial spirit but soon became better known for his misdemeanours and odd behaviour: One time, he hid behind a monument and jumped out to scare German leader Angela Merkel, shouting, “Coo-coo” (“She enjoyed it,” Berlusconi later said). Like Trump, he even has an intriguing hairstyle….(read more)
Clive Palmer, an Australian billionaire, certainly creates Trump-size headlines. He has plans to construct a replica of the Titanic. He wants to open his own “Jurassic Park.” He has accused his political opponents of being funded by the CIA. He has called Chinese officials “mongrels” (and later apologised).
The similarities between the two go beyond headlines and money, however….(read more)
China is a country full of very rich people, and often these very rich people have deep political ambitions. However, it’s possible that Chen Guangbiao is the only one who can match Trump for sheer arrogance.
There are numerous examples of how big Chen’s ego is, including his audacious and doomed attempt to buy The New York Times and his insistence on singing at media events. Perhaps the best example of Chen’s ego, however, is a business card he handed to me in 2013….(read more)
While Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the loud-mouthed Russian politician who founded the Liberal Democratic Party in 1990, may lack the business credentials of Trump (his background is in the military), he has a habit of making statements that suggest a kinship with the American businessman.
For example, he suggests arming every single person in Russia so they can kill birds….(read more)
In many parts of Central and Eastern Europe, business success and political populism mingle, creating fertile grounds for local variants of Trumps.
The Czech Republic’s Tomio Okamura seems especially appropriate for this list, however. Like Trump, he has not only parlayed entrepreneurial success into a spot on a reality television show, he has also been able to gain political momentum and a seat in the Czech senate. …(read more)
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