The Daily Update - Populist presidents

"You're fired" is what many US citizens were used to hearing from reality TV star turned leader of the free world Donald Trump. It was ironic yesterday then that FBI Chief Comey discovered he too had been fired as he heard President Trump deliver the news on TV while he was addressing Bureau staff. This adds to a week where presidential scandals and political upsets seem to be a daily occurrence across the globe. Sunday saw the election of Emmanuel Macron as French President; although conventional compared to the National Front, his party ‘En Marche!’ is only 13 months young reflecting France’s dispiritedness with traditional politics. On Monday a new trial of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva opened, echoing the ongoing struggle against corruption in the country and the inertia to reform that, replacement President, Michel Temer faces. Tuesday’s presidential elections in South Korea solidified overwhelming support for a change in leadership direction when they chose Moon Jae-in of the ‘Democratic Party of Korea’ as their new President. Such overwhelming support for the former refugee and human rights lawyer is again a recoiling from the failings and corruption of the former government and President Park Geun-hye.

Contrastingly, the US is further along in its populist crusade, having won their vote for unorthodoxy back in November last year. Trump has already fired his attorney general and national security adviser; adding FBI Director Comey to the tally was always a possibility. Citing Comey’s failures regarding the Hillary Clinton email scandal as the reason for the dismissal seems a little suspect given that it comes days before Comey was set to appear before the Senate intelligence committee. And if this was the reason why has Trump waited until now; Trump has had three months in office, on top of a further two months since attaining the public (Electoral College) vote to make such a decision?

Such judiciousness seems out of place against a man whose actions helped Trump win more votes, and according to his own words last year did ‘the right thing’. More likely ‘Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation’ says Senator Tim Kaine - echoing the widespread concern over such a sensitive and self-serving act. For any new appointment to fill the position will likely be bias to his cause; if approved by the Senate would work to his favour or if left unconfirmed will hamper the ongoing investigation. Congressman John Conyers of Michigan further stated, ‘Today’s action by President Trump completely obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election, and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis’. ‘The president is the first since Watergate [Nixon] to fire an official in the middle of investigating potential misconduct by his own campaign.’ says Politico - highlighting the vast contrast between the current administration and the unusually scandal free administration that preceded it and that many had become accustomed to.

Let’s see if this real life leadership sitcom continues the rest of the week: with odds-on that the US makes a repeat occurrence. Either that or salacious media favourite President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who has been a little too quiet of late.

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