Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Rodrigo Duterte, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Narendra Modi, Viktor Orban — it still seems a bit startling to add the name of Boris Johnson, to that roll-call of “strongman” leaders from the US, Brazil, the Philippines, Turkey, India and Hungary. After all, the British prime minister has built his political career by marketing himself as a “good chap”, affable, well-read, a liberal at heart. What has he got in common with thugs like Duterte or Erdogan?

Quite a lot, as it happens. In recent years, strongman politics has flourished all over the world. It is no longer confined to authoritarian states such as China and Russia. As Trump, Orban and Bolsonaro have all demonstrated, even democracies can elect leaders who revel in a cult of personality and delight in their willingness to trample over political and legal norms.

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