One month after his surprise victory, Donald Trump is redefining presidential politics in the United States in ways that will send shockwaves to other countries that also have such systems. And as the most presidential region in the world, Latin America will be directly affected by the rapid evolution that presidentialism will experience through a Trump presidency.
The way President-elect Trump has broken with tradition since winning the election has not surprised many in Latin American countries. Trump’s attack on the press, his resistance to putting his businesses under the scrutiny of independent observers and his grandiose declarations about the accomplishments of his administration (even before his inauguration) is nothing new in a region accustomed to having outspoken, controversial and populist presidents. In the past, many presidents-elect in the region have taken on the press to exemplify their distance from the elite. Presidents in Latin America regularly use their feuds with the press to shore up popular support.
Believing that they are exempt from the regulations that apply to other public-sector servants, Latin American presidents in the past have successfully shielded their business dealings from the press and the scrutiny of independent institutions or institutional powers designed to provide a system of checks and balances. Entrusting children and/or other family members with the family business has long been common practice among presidents in the region, long before Donald Trump tried to do the same in the US.
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