Trump's iffy election stance 'diversionary': analyst

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Delaware County Fair in Delaware, Ohio, on October 20, 2016 (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
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Washington (AFP) - As Donald Trump avoids pledging to accept the result of the US presidential election, his rival Hillary Clinton appears to be enjoying a boost in the polls.

Jonathan Laurence, a political science professor at Boston College, told AFP he sees the Republican candidate's snub of the very foundation of American democratic tradition as a final attempt to regain control of the race as his White House bid flails.

Question: Why has Donald Trump threatened to dispute the election results?

Answer: "He is an intuitive showman, and this is really the ultimate stage and probably his last chance at creating any suspense around his person that people care about. I view that kind of disdain for our process as a natural bubbling over of a populist sentiment that he's been peddling across the country.

It's not so far from the language of Malcolm X or others who were anti-system and had really lost faith in the system. But in Donald Trump's case I don't believe it is sincere. I think it is part of a rather talented theatrical personality, whose calling as a circus barker has taken him to one of politics' most prominent stages.

It also has to do with how poorly things have been going for him. So there's a diversionary aspect to it, a way to keep himself in the news cycle. He's skilled at it because he's practiced it in several different arenas. He understands how to goat and bait journalists and how to keep them wanting more. He's revealing a lot of faults with our way of consuming news about politics."

Q: What risk does questioning the reliability of the vote's results pose to the electoral process?

A: "If you think about where populists make their hay, it's from conveying or channeling the impression that the parties in power are not different from one another and incapable of self-reform -- and therefore you need a strong-willed, charismatic outsider to knock heads and clean up the system. That works in the Netherlands, it works in France to a certain extent, it's worked in Austria before. In Germany it's working to a certain extent precisely because you have a grand coalition in which the two main parties are struggling to distinguish themselves from one another.

Populists can exploit that, and one step further from pointing out the cozy ecosystem of national political elite is to include the fourth estate, to suggest the media is somewhat complicit in this. And then the ultimate step is the discrediting of the institutions themselves, and to suggest they're incapable of being fair to outsiders like himself."

Q: What is the difference between Donald Trump's populism and European populism?

A: "The presidential system is a different beast. Trump, should he by some electoral event arrive at the White House, would not be arriving with any legislators in tow, or rather a very small number. Whereas the populist leaders in Western Europe tend to have a political party with a political platform that the other parties are forced to compete with, and borrow from, and engage, and there are personalities up and down the organization. The Trump organization is his family portrait plus a handful of others.

It frees him, it also frees him from political reality, because there's no way to deliver on any of these promises without Congress. And from what it appears, he plans to govern by way of the Supreme Court."

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