In just the past 15 years, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac of France, Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak of South Korea and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy have all been prosecuted for corruption and found guilty. The list of those criminally charged also includes former democratically elected leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa and Taiwan.
In the 1980s, Kakuei Tanaka, a former prime minister of Japan, was convicted. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is currently on trial on corruption charges.
“It’s always a big deal when a former president or prime minister is indicted, but in most democracies, it is normal when they’re credibly accused of serious crimes,” said Steven Levitsky, a professor of government at Harvard who has written about dozens of countries’ transition to democracy. The United States, he said, has been an outlier in its reluctance to charge a former leader.
“Political systems have to handle it,” he added. “They have to. Because the alternative — saying some people are above the law — is much worse.”
The essence of authoritarianism is getting away with crime. That's why this indictment is so important— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) March 31, 2023