Populists Beware — Don’t Make False Promises

(Bloomberg) --

If Italy’s Matteo Salvini is curious about what happens when populists promise more than they can deliver, he should look no further than the case of Alexis Tsipras, the Greek iconoclast who vowed to bring down the establishment but then found himself part of it.

For Germany’s Angela Merkel, Tsipras is the leader who took his country to the brink of financial ruin and ultimately saw sense. But back home, he caved in to the demands of international creditors for more spending cuts and tax increases. Instead of ending austerity, he enforced it.

In Sunday’s parliamentary elections, the Greek prime minister is set to be ejected from office. Eleni Chrepa traveled to the northern town of Florina and with Paul Tugwell reported how the once-unshakable support for his radical left Syriza party has crumbled.

People are fed up. “It’s like telling a kid that you will get them an ice cream and ending up giving them nothing, not even chewing gum,” says one store owner.

Salvini may be at the opposite side of the ideological spectrum, but the lessons of Tsipras are a reminder that disappointed voters can turn on you.

Populists Beware — Don’t Make False Promises

Global Headlines

Reality check | Kamala Harris says she supports “Medicare for All,” and she has co-sponsored legislation with Bernie Sanders. But unlike her Democratic presidential rival, she says her plan wouldn’t end private insurance. As Sahil Kapur writes, that’s misleading. Meanwhile, Harris renewed her criticism of Joe Biden for his opposition to federally mandated busing to end race segregation in schools as a senator in the 1970s, extending a dispute sparked at last week’s debate.

Rights abuses | The United Nations has urged the Venezuelan government to halt its “grave violations” of economic, social and civil rights. The UN documented discrimination, threats to opposition members and torture by security services under Nicolas Maduro's regime. The report recommends the dissolution of the feared Special Action Force, which it blames for thousands of extrajudicial killings. Venezuela called the UN's report “an openly biased truth” that minimized state measures to improve people’s lives.

Missing Lagarde | Christine Lagarde not only gave Argentina the IMF’s largest-ever bailout, she was also a true friend of the country — often speaking with President Mauricio Macri over the phone and even keeping a WhatsApp chat with Economy Minister Nicolas Dujovne. Now that she will head the European Central Bank, will the next IMF managing director offer Argentina the same sympathetic treatment?

Union state | Boris Johnson, the front-runner to replace Theresa May as British prime minister, said he would prioritize the union of the U.K. over leaving the European Union, while also saying that delivering Brexit is key to keeping the country together. May traveled to Scotland yesterday to warn that a no-deal exit, which both Johnson and his rival Jeremy Hunt have left on the table, would have “undoubted consequences for the economy and the union.”

Anti-China graffiti | After hundreds of thousands of protesters peacefully marched on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, a small group broke into the Legislative Council, ransacking and vandalizing the chamber. The graffiti messages they left behind — some in Chinese, some in English — help explain the deep social and political divides underpinning the protests.

Populists Beware — Don’t Make False Promises

What to Watch

  • One of the producers of “The Wolf of Wall Street” film, Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, pleaded not guilty to money-laundering charges linked to the scandal-plagued 1MDB state investment fund.
  • Sudan’s ruling transitional military council and the opposition alliance agreed to share power for a period of three years or more before holding general elections.

And finally… Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has assets worth $684,000, operates four foreign currency accounts and owns four goats. The cricketer-turned-politician doesn't own a car but takes a helicopter to work, the Express Tribune reported. Khan has been leading a cost-cutting drive, moving out of the official residence and selling unnecessary government assets including luxury cars.

Populists Beware — Don’t Make False Promises

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.