Why are Trump and Johnson still so popular?

Despite impeachment proceedings for Trump and a crushing defeat before Britain's supreme court for Johnson, the two leaders are as popular as ever. Commentators discuss why the two politicians still stand a good chance of winning the next elections in their countries.

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De Standaard (BE) /

The unimaginable has become reality

De Standaard sees a major threat to democracy:

“Suddenly, the tools that were once set up for the unlikely, purely hypothetical scenario of the executive getting the crazy idea of developing totalitarian traits must now be put into operation. We now find ourselves in this unfortunate situation. This is a great challenge for liberal democracy. Not only because of the shamelessness with which Trump and Johnson are trampling on the basic rules of the political system, but also because of the sympathy that this is eliciting from their supporters. ... Democracy is being used as a weapon against itself. The opposition is cornered.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

The duel between democracy and populism

Trump and Johnson are symbols of today's conflict between leaders and parliaments, columnist Antonio Polito comments in Corriere della Sera:

“A tug of war is going on across the globe between old parliaments and new, rising autocrats. ... On the one side are the leaders, who seek to derive all their power from their own position and their direct ties with the people. On the other side are the parliaments, which want to subject these leaders to the law that they as representatives implement. This is inevitably an ambivalent battle, because when it comes down to it the etymology of the two diametrically opposed terms 'democracy' and 'populism' is the same: the Greek term 'demos' means the same thing as the Latin term 'populus'.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Return to the way things used to be unlikely

Populist politicians will continue to be successful as long as social discontent prevails, writes Helsingin Sanomat:

“In strongly polarised societies only the version put forward by one's own side is believed. If deep distrust of the opposing side prevails, not even a violation of the law will turn the most passionate supporters against their leader. This is not the end of the story. At some point the political leaders will be replaced. But if the reasons for popular discontent persist, there will probably be no return to the old days. ... It has already become clear that harsh speeches can help potential successors come to power.”