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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Assessing Leaders and Political Power Across Time

Political Leadership
Eoin O'Malley
Dublin City University
Eoin O'Malley
Dublin City University

The desire to judge political leaders is as ubiquitous as it is natural. Some assess leaders on the basis of their personal attributes, such as their personality, their rhetorical skills, management skills etc. Others look at institutional attributes, so whether they have powers available to them to control policy and others who exert control on policy, especially the ability to choose those people who set policy – ministers. Others still look at electoral achievements, either as a source of power or the object of leaders’ activities.
But just as we don’t step into the same river twice, no two leaders face the same circumstances. This paper sets out a framework for assessing leaders that will be used for a project on political power and leadership in modern Ireland. It looks at the goals of and challenges faced by the leader, and the resources, personal and political, available to the leader to assess Irish Taoisigh. The paper will look at a small number of examples to test the framework.
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