18:46 GMT05 August 2020
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    Donald Trump has followed the footsteps of many other successful businessmen entering politics in recent years; their emergence is a sign of traditional politics' failure to connect with voters, Argentine sociologist Atilio Boron told Sputnik Mundo.

    Before entering politics, Donald Trump was well known for having a billion-dollar real estate business, The Trump Organization, a family business which he took control of in 1971.

    Trump himself has said his net worth is "in excess of $10 billion," although some US publications have estimated his wealth to be lower. In July Bloomberg estimated his net worth at $3 billion, and Forbes currently estimates him to be worth $3.7 billion.

    One of the most well-known examples of a billionaire businessman entering politics in recent decades was former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who served four terms at the head of Italy's government. The businessman launched his own party, Forza Italia (Go Italy), in 1993.

    Berlusconi, who also made a fortune in real estate, is owner of the Fininvest holding company which owns Italy's largest commercial broadcaster Mediaset, the country's largest publishing house Mondadori and daily newspaper Il Giornale. 

    Berlusconi also owns AC Milan football club, although he is expected to close a deal next month selling his stake to Chinese investors. According to Forbes, Berlusconi is currently worth $5.6 billion.

    In Latin America several billionaire businessmen have come to power in recent years. These include Chilean entrepreneur Sebastian Pinera, who was President of Chile between 2010 and 2014. 

    Pinera played a key role in introducing credit cards to Chile, and founded credit card company Bancard in 1976. He is currently estimated to be worth $2.5 billion.

    Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, who was elected in 2013, is also one of the country's richest men. His businesses include the tobacco, finance, farming, retail and the soft drinks industry.

    Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who took office in December 2015, is a successful businessman with interests in construction, finance and car manufacturing. In April he was voted the Most Powerful President in Latin America by the American news magazine Time.

    Joao Doria, who will take office as mayor of the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo in January, is also a millionaire businessman. 

    In Uruguay, entrepreneur Edgardo Novick, who owns a footwear and clothing business, has recently set up his own "People's Party," which will contest the country's next general election in 2019.

    In an era of faltering party allegiances, Argentine sociologist Atilio Boron told Sputnik Mundo that the long list of rich businessmen successfully entering politics demonstrates the failing of traditional politics.

    "The era of political entrepreneurs is testament to the failure of traditional political parties. In the US, the Democratic Party did not respond to the needs of the lower strata of the working and middle classes. This situation is also observed in some Latin American countries," Boron said.

    Boron added that these millionaires make speeches "apparently devoid of political ideology," and are able to use "plain language" to organize political forces. 

    In addition, they are in the financial position to raise issues which are important for many ordinary people, but ignored by traditional political forces, Uruguayan political scientist Gabriel Delacoste said.

    "Politics is an expensive business, and people with a lot of resources are in a privileged position. When you can self-finance your campaign or you have contacts which will fund it for you, you have less restrictions in terms of party structure, union networks and policy speeches."

    The prevailing neo-liberal ideology has led people to believe that power is best used in the hands of a few individuals, and entrepreneur politicians can point to their financial success as a guarantee of success in office. 

    "Neo-liberal ideology has created the idea that management is more effective when it is in the hands of individuals. Although there have been left-wing governments in Latin America, this idea has been constantly promoted," Delacoste said.

    "These were times of high growth, as well as charity and the vanity of businessmen. These factors have pushes these figures to the fore. Now these people are directing exercising state power," Delacoste said.

    The success of businessman politicians may also have its roots in a class culture gap, University of California Law Professor Joan C. Williams wrote in the aftermath of Trump's victory.

    "One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class resents professionals but admires the rich," Williams wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

    By and large, people in this social class are not interested in becoming white-collar professionals, such as Hillary Clinton. Rather, their goal is to own their own business, a dream which is epitomized by Trump and other businessmen.


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