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Chapter 10. Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices 2e By Lowell Barrington. Leadership and the Importance of Individuals in the Political Process. Learning Objectives. Describe the basic features of the choice approach.

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chapter 10
Chapter 10

Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices 2e

By Lowell Barrington

Leadership and the Importance of

Individuals in the Political Process

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Describe the basic features of the choice approach.
  • Discuss the differences among leadership traits, skills, and style.
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of focusing on leadership as a way of understanding political outcomes.
  • Explain rational choice theory and propose criticisms of it.
  • Provide examples from the chapter about the importance of specific individuals in shaping political outcomes.
leadership and the importance of individuals in the political process
Leadership and the Importance ofIndividuals in the Political Process
  • Leadership Traits
    • Inborn skills rather than learned
  • Leadership Skills
    • Focuses on skills that can be learned
  • Leadership Style
    • Relationship-oriented vs. task-oriented

Decision Making: Rational and Otherwise

  • Rationality
    • Decisions based on reason and logic
  • Bounded Rationality
    • Recognizes limits to full rationality
    • Simon’s “satisficing” idea is an example
  • Non-rationality
    • Cognitive Dissonance
    • Groupthink
    • Transference, Mood and Emotion

Topic in Countries

  • The United Kingdom
    • Prime minister has great influence over the political system; current prime minister, David Cameron, took the job after he and Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, reached an agreement, but he does not control a majority of the House of Commons
    • Important Political Decision
      • Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands Islands War

Topic in Countries

  • Germany
    • Political system disperses executive power; Chancellor Angela Merkel held together a grand coalition many believed would be short-lived
    • Important Political Decision
      • The German Currency Union

Topic in Countries

  • India
    • Nehru-Gandhi family dynasty; Sonia Gandhi heads the INC, but Manmohan Singh is prime minister
    • Important Political Decision
      • “Freezing” and “Unfreezing” the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Agreement
in theory and practice india and incrementalism
In Theory and PracticeIndia and Incrementalism
  • Incrementalism
    • Theory of decision making
    • Stresses that, short of a crisis, policies will be changed slightly
  • India
    • Challenges incrementalism
    • Economic policy changed in fits and starts
    • India points out that policy changes may not be incremental (1) in the years after a major reform or (2) when successive governments under rival parties undo policies of the previous government

Topic in Countries

  • Mexico
    • “Colorful” leadersof the past gave way to many uninspiring leaders under the PRI; last two presidents (including current President Felipe Calderón) have come from the PAN
    • Important Political Decision
      • Ernesto Zedillo and Liberalization
in theory and practice rational choice theory and the mexican government s support of nafta
In Theory and PracticeRational Choice Theory and the Mexican Government’s Support of NAFTA
  • Rational Choice Theory
    • Humans seek to maximize the likelihood of attaining their interests by weighing the costs and benefits of particular actions
    • Salinas was motivated to maximize Mexico’s economic performance; goes against rational choice theory?
think and discuss

Think and Discuss

What factors not examined in the “In Theory and Practice” box might explain Carlos Salinas’s decision to support NAFTA?


Topic in Countries

  • Brazil
    • Weak parties puts premium on individual leadership skills; President DilmaRousseff was sworn in Jan. 1, 2011 on a runoff vote; intends to pursue her own course
    • Important Political Decision
      • Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the Plano Real

Topic in Countries

  • Nigeria
    • Leaders with military experience; President Yar’Adua is the first civilian leader since independence
    • Important Political Decision
      • The Rationality of the Nigerian Civil War

Topic in Countries

  • Russia
    • History of strong leaders; Medvedev is the president, but many see Putin as controlling the government from his position as prime minister
    • Important Political Decision
      • The Coup against Mikhail Gorbachev

Topic in Countries

  • China
    • Role of individuals remains important; HuJintao (China’s current president) continues the process of transition to a new, post-revolutionary generation of leaders
    • Important Political Decision
      • Mao, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution
in theory and practice deng xiaoping tiananmen square and elite learning
In Theory and PracticeDeng Xiaoping, Tiananmen Square, and Elite Learning
  • Elite Learning
    • Theory of decision making
    • Argues that elites learn from past mistakes and act differently the next time
  • Deng Xiaoping and Tiananmen Square
    • 1989 uprising
    • Deng Xiaoping saw Eastern Europe Communist systems collapsing
    • In this case, the leader “learned” from the failure of leaders to hold their systems together
    • Led him to order crackdown against the protesters

Topic in Countries

  • Iran
    • Supreme Leader and president both important; the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) is the more important; president is MahmoudAhmadinejad
    • Important Political Decision
      • The Choice to Bar Reformist Candidates in the 2003 Majles Elections
think and discuss1

Think and Discuss

To what extent do the backgrounds and leadership styles of the current and past political leaders highlighted in the TIC sections explain their successes and failures?