40% of Americans Say We Need a Leader Willing to Break Rules

According to an Ipsos survey, 40 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “To fix this country, we need a strong leader willing to break the rules.” Perhaps it is no coincidence that the popular vote for Donald Trump was only slightly more than this at 46.1 percent (compared to 48.2 percent for Hillary Clinton).

More astoundingly, 80 percent of the French surveyed agreed with that statement. On the other hand, countries that were ruled within living memory by a rule-breaking authoritarian strongman were less likely to agree. Only 21 percentage of Germans and 35 percent of Spaniards did so.

However there were exceptions. In Italy, a country that was once ruled by dictator Benito Mussolini but has not had a stable government since his death, 68 percent of those polled longed for a rule-breaking strong ruler. In Brazil, which has recent experience with a military dictatorship, 48 percent longed for a such a ruler.

Sixty-nine percent of Israelis agreed with the statement, even though they already have a rule-breaking, authoritarian ruler in the person of Benjamin Netanyahu. I find this surprising given the history of suffering of the Jewish people under dictators such as Adolf Hitler.

This longing for a strongman ruler among a majority of the population in some countries and among a substantial minority in the United States does not bode well for the future of western democracy.