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The Leadership Capital IndexA New Perspective on Political Leadership$
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Mark Bennister, Ben Worthy, and Paul 't Hart

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198783848.001.0001

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Turning Structural Weakness into Personal Strength

Turning Structural Weakness into Personal Strength

Angela Merkel and the Politics of Leadership Capital in Germany

(p.27) Chapter 2 Turning Structural Weakness into Personal Strength
The Leadership Capital Index

Ludger Helms

Femke van Esch

Oxford University Press

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s exceptional public popularity and persistence as the head of three German governments—two of which were “grand coalitions”—presents a fascinating puzzle. Re-elected twice and half through her third term, Merkel has retained a strikingly high level of leadership capital for at least ten years. This chapter offers a twofold explanation for Merkel’s largely unexpected trajectory as a rock-solid leader. First, she has managed to turn the particular institutional and political constraints of Germany’s compound democracy into opportunities. The need to avoid bold leadership initiatives very much played to her personal strengths, and thus allowed her to increase her personal authenticity. Second, Merkel has been able to keep a high stock of leadership capital simply by not spending it, i.e., by keeping away from unpopular decisions and policies (until the fall of 2015), thereby reducing her political vulnerability.

Keywords:   Germany, Angela Merkel, chancellor, chancellorship, grand coalitions, rock-solid leader, compound democracy, spatial leadership

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