2017-08-09

More and more business leaders are positioning themselves as the best CEO a country can wish for. However, experience learns that they rarely succeed.

Donald Trump is not the only businessman with political ambitions. Especially in Eastern Europe his example (and style) is often followed. For example, the wealthy businessman Andrej Babiš is top favourite to succeed Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka in the Czech Republic in October. It is barely six years ago that Babiš founded his own party with the liberal-populist ANO to lead a business government, and put an end to the abundant corruption in the country. ANO did so well that 'Babisconi' (a nickname borrowed from another political businessman, Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) became Finance Minister under Sobotka, until he was dismissed after a disagreement in May. 

Babiš may not like the comparison with Trump - whom he thinks is a lousy businessman - but he shares his aversion to migration and love for politically incorrect statements. Also in other Eastern European countries there are Trumpian entrepreneurs-politicians: think of Slovakia (Boris Kollár, slogan 'Trust me, I'm not a politician'), Serbia (Bogoljub Karić), Latvia (Aivars Lembergs) and Poland (Zbigniew Stonoga). They like to call themselves political outsiders and anti-establishment.

The question remains whether entrepreneurs add value in the political arena. Practice suggests that it is rarely a good combination. Voters may believe that a country can be run as a company, but that doesn't make it a reality. 

Daan Ballegeer

Daan Ballegeer (1982) studied economic sciences at Ghent University and journalism. He worked as a financial journalist for Flemish financial daily De Tijd for several years and now writes for various Belgian and Dutch newspapers and magazines. Ons…
€ 2000 allocated in 2016.
ID
FPD/2016/1338
Grant
Fonds Pascal Decroos
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