VOICE OVER: RB
Script written by Noah Levy
We recommend not getting into arguments about any of the following politicians; it'll probably get ugly. From Benjamin Netanyahu, to George W. Bush, to Richard Nixon, these politicians have sure stirred up their fair share of debate. WatchMojo counts down ten most controversial political figures.
Special thanks to our users MikeMJPMUNCH2, Jedimperial96, and ProjectAce7 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Most%20Controversial%20Political%20Figures.
Script written by Noah Levy
Top 10 Most Controversial Political Figures
We recommend not getting into arguments about any of the following politicians; it’ll probably get ugly. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Controversial Political Figures.
For this list, we’re looking at the lawmakers and leaders that evoke intense reactions from their supporters and their haters. In order for someone to be considered, they can’t be universally hated or acknowledged as pure evil, like Adolf Hitler. They have to have a base that supports them, and detractors that point out their flaws.
#10: Hillary Clinton
Hillary has a list of achievements that puts many other politicians to shame. She was First Lady for 8 years, Senator from New York, Secretary of State under former Presidential rival President Obama, and the first woman in a major U.S. political party to be nominated for President. For many, she is a powerful feminist figure in politics and particularly loved by the left, but she is also equally vilified. Perhaps most infamous is her handling of Benghazi and her private email server. Many feel that choosing such a polarizing candidate ultimately cost the Democrats the 2016 US election.
#9: Benjamin Netanyahu
The man they call “Bibi” is a juggernaut in Israeli politics. He was Israel’s ambassador to the UN from 1984 to 1988, and was elected four times as the country’s Prime Minister. But as popular as Netanyahu is among Conservatives in both his own country and abroad, he is less liked by parts of the left and groups that oppose the continuing violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also clashed with President Obama on a few occasions, over issues like the continued building of Israeli settlements, and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. As long as Bibi stays popular in his homeland though, it doesn’t look like he’ll be going anywhere.
#8: George W. Bush
Dubya’s Presidency was controversial from day one, as he lost the popular vote and was chosen as the ultimate winner of the 2000 election by the Supreme Court. Though his sky-high poll numbers following 9/11 gave him unprecedented popularity and power, he chipped away at that goodwill throughout the rest of his administration. The Iraq War became a costly, seemingly endless endeavor, his handling of Hurricane Katrina was considered generally weak, and he ended up presiding over the worst American economy since the Great Depression. While nobody would argue against his leadership skills in the aftermath of September 11th, almost everything he did after that was seen less than positively by the masses.
#7: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
During Erdogan’s 11 year prime-ministership in the 2000s, he attempted to bring Turkey into the 21st century by negotiating the country’s acceptance into the European Union, improving the economy, and reducing the power of the Turkish military. But shortly before Erdogan became President in 2014, he was caught up in corruption scandals and even accusations of abuse of power against dissident groups. By the time he assumed the Presidency, the situation in Turkey had become downright volatile, with Erdogan reportedly repressing the power of the free press and media, leading to an unsuccessful coup in July 2016. Following a 2017 referendum that basically granted him unlimited presidential power, many see him as a dictator-in-the-making.
#6: Silvio Berlusconi
A media titan before he was a major political player in Italy, Berlusconi’s three non-consecutive terms made him the longest serving Prime Minister of post-war Italy. But... despite his victories, his tenure in office was marred by corruption scandals and a struggling economy during his third and final term. That being said, Berlusconi is probably more known for all the mayhem he caused out of office. It would take too long to run down everything he’s infamous for, but some of the lowlights include his involvement in an underage sex scandal, possible ties to the Mafia, and his legendarily outspoken demeanor, which has landed him in hot water more than a few times.
#5: Richard Nixon
It’s easy to forget all the progress Nixon made in the early years of his Presidency. He was the first US President to visit the People’s Republic of China, initiated détente with the Soviet Union, and finally ended US involvement in Vietnam. Despite his massive popularity going into his second term, he was brought down by one infamous compound word: Watergate. The break-in and ensuing scandal destroyed trust in the federal government, and Nixon specifically. It was, as his successor called it, a “long national nightmare.” In the end, Nixon’s legacy is split: some admire the progress he made in his early years, while others revile the mistakes he made in his later ones.
#4: Vladimir Putin
The man who put Russia back on the road to being a superpower, Putin is beloved by many in his home country, where he’s portrayed as some sort of superhero. But internationally, and in leftist Russian circles, the view of him is much less favorable. Putin’s cold, brutal rule has resulted in what many see as suppression of liberties in Russia, specifically his antagonism against journalists and the free press. He’s also supportive of regimes that have blatantly violated human rights, such as Bashar Al-Assad’s in Syria. A lot of times, it seems like Putin is unafraid of returning to the status quo of the Cold War, and that scares a lot of people.
#3: Margaret Thatcher
When the UK was at its lowest point in the late 70s, its first female Prime Minister came along to try to set things right. Regarded equally for her leadership and her status as an icon for women, the Iron Lady brought Britain out of a period of economic stagnation by rejecting the post-war consensus and lessening the country’s reliance on welfare. These policies later became known as “Thatcherism”. However, despite her success at the time, harsh critics of Thatcherism remain vocal, referring to the fact that even though the economy may have improved, unemployment did not. Despite her looming stature in Britain’s history, Thatcher remains a polarizing figure in her homeland.
#2: Fidel Castro
Years after the Cuban Revolution, the impact and legacy of Fidel Castro’s decades-long rule continues to be debated. Despite cutting off his country from the rest of the world, he brought Cuba into a new era, freeing it from the hand of American imperialism, and becoming iconic among anti-capitalists and members of the far-left. Still, his cult of personality was evidence of a totalitarian rule in his country. Despite his responsibility in raising parts of the standard of living in Cuba, Castro is also characterized as a ruthless ruler - not only supposedly suppressing liberties, but also aligning himself with regimes like the Soviet Union, an alliance that almost led to full nuclear war in 1962.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Tony Blair
Prime Minister of the UK (1997-2007)
- Robert Mugabe
President of Zimbabwe (1987-)
- Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Philippines (2016-)
#1: Donald Trump
He didn’t have any political experience. He lobbed insults like they were going out of style. He endured so many scandals that would have ended anyone else’s career. He was up against a qualified but equally polarizing candidate. Despite it all… Donald Trump became President. He was able to tap into something in Americans and ride it to the top. His White House tenure has proven equally polarizing, with continuing scandals, personnel turnovers, and rampant Twitter rants driving him to the lowest approval ratings of any US President. Yet, his supporters stand by him, ensuring that President Trump continues to be one of the most controversial figures in political history.