Impeached by popular demand

The looming impeachment of South Korean president Park has peppered the news of the last few weeks. While we now know the verdict, the impeachment route has become an inevitable lifeline of anti corruption politics. From Erap to Brazil, many a leader have been ousted, killed by mass dissent. As the world evaluates Ms Park’s decision to brave the tidal wave against her, we pause and consider the short history of the impeachment sniper. Here is a cursory look at some of the more famous impeachment trials of recent memory:

Bill Clinton
Perhaps the most famous impeachment trial ever, US President Bill Clinton is remembered for lying as much as stabilising the American economy. Having said that he did not have an intimate relationship with Monica Lewinsky, he endured months of grilling and backlash before the trial even got underway. The world became witness to the stained dress and to recorded conversations between Lewinsky and Linda Tripp. Privileged information that Lewinsky told the latter became public knowledge, and we were all privy to this unfolding saga. While the president was eventually acquitted of all charges, he endangered the trust of the voting public. His wallet also took a hit, with the $4 million spent on lawyer fees almost making him go belly up. Indeed how Clinton is remembered more for the Lewinsky scandal than his foreign and economic policies is unfortunate. 

Five Filipino presidents (from L): Erap, Gloria Arroyo, Duterte, Fidel Ramos, Pnoy

Erap (ex-Filipino President Joseph Estrada)
Adored by the masses, former actor Erap won the 1998 presidential election in a landslide. Less than 3 years later, and not halfway through his presidency, Erap was powerless against corruption allegations. He was then the subject of impeachment proceedings, where he won the senate vote 13-11. However, he could not escape being charged with other offences, and was sent to jail together with his politico son. The second EDSA revolution interspersed with this outcome. Just as history happened a second time, the bitter climate of plunder and high graft has not abated. Corrupt officials, red tape, and the farcical war on drugs has tainted the Filipino nation. 

Park Gyeun Hye
The world has watched the degradation of the now deposed Korean leader. She had many opportunities to step down, but was adamant at facing the music. There is really no need to trawl the net on what you can find; the information is right under your nose. This is the issue though with having a female leader: they seem to be more dogged with sticking to their post. Think of ex Filipino president Arroyo and Brazil’s Rouseff, both of whom toughed it out till the end. They could endure having their welcomes worn out, the bad publicity, the media scrutiny, but they know zilch when it comes to the democratic process. I could go on and on about Koreans and flawed people, but that is a job for another day. I’ll have to resend the director’s cut later :s

Dilma Rousseff 
The disgraced former Brazilian President set a bad precedent, the corruption allegations forcing her out of office. The magnitude of her downfall has echoed to the shores of Seoul, where fresh charges swallowed Park. While corruption is rife in South America, Brazil’s economy has surprised others. The growth rate has been steady, and unemployment has been minimised. The hosting of major events, from the football World Cup to the Rio Olympics, ensured the creation of massive job numbers. However, these same companies have worked on infrastructure projects forever, and the construction costs was way over budget. The Olympics was reminiscent of Athens 2004, where observers doubted if they could pull it off in times for the games. Meanwhile, mining companies have likewise pushed Amazon inhabitants out of their homes, which the movie Avatar captured. Rousseff was in the middle of all this, and it didn’t look good.

So there you have it, four world leaders who faced impeachment, from three continents. The trend has been to punish corruption and take a head shot at the erring leader. Regardless, governments across the planet are being cautious.

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