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Presidential Leadership: Personality, Accountability and Governance in Democracy and Autocracy

Comparative Politics
Executives
Government
Representation
Power
POTUS
S52
Anna Fruhstorfer
Universität Potsdam
Philipp Koeker
Universität Hannover

Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Presidential Politics


Abstract

The concept of leadership in politics is a key phenomenon throughout history. It is also one of the most contested concepts in recent years, particular in the study of presidential politics. The presidency of Donald Trump is just the latest of many examples to show that strategies such as going public, relying on unilateral action, depending on speeches, focusing on foreign policy to avert attention from domestic issues, or counting on your political talent and personality are ubiquitous – essentially the question of presidential leadership is always a question of political power. This section aims to subject to critical scrutiny the ways we use presidential leadership as a proxy for distinct levels of power in different regional and historical contexts. We aim to address questions that link presidential leadership to core debates in executive-legislative relations research and to explore whether the different strategies pursued under the umbrella of leadership support or hinder democratic governance, horizontal and vertical accountability, institutional cooperation and conflict and, most importantly, representation. Potential panel and paper topics include: Democratic governance and executive hegemony in presidentialism and beyond Horizontal and vertical accountability of presidents and chief executives Institutional cooperation and conflict, Institutions that hinder or support leadership Representation, political and social context and their role in presidential leadership We are particularly seeking panels and papers that will address these questions, but also welcome contributions that engage with presidential politics more generally. Within these thematic areas we invite comparative or single-case studies with a creative conceptual approach and sophisticated empirical strategies. The section is open with regard to theoretical or empirical contributions, as well as geographical coverage. All methods, whether qualitative or quantitative, are welcome. Our Section will bring together a diverse group of senior and junior scholars working on executive politics, representation, accountability, and more broadly presidentialism, parliamentarism as well as democratic backsliding. This section is endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Presidential Politics. It follows the sections on presidential politics that were convened at the last General Conferences in Hamburg, Wroclaw, and Innsbruck. All three sections were very well-attended and allowed the formation of a productive and engaged research community. The proposed section seeks to further develop these networks and also warmly welcomes contributions from scholars new to the field of presidential politics.
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