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Political leaders: the paradox of freedom and democracy

Author(s): Filipe Teles

Journal: Revista Enfoques : Ciencia Política y Administración Pública
ISSN 0718-0241

Volume: X;
Issue: 16;
Start page: 113;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: authority | democracy | egalitarianism | freedom | leadership

It is acknowledged that political leadership still makes a difference. However, research seems unable to offer the proper tools to provide further and relevant understanding on the theme, particularly when we consider liberal democracy’s current trends, namely its egalitarian ethos and the personalization of politics. One of its key features, even in controlled democracies, with strong checks and counterweight systems in place, is the dominance of assertive leaders, to whom voters look-up to when deciding which party to vote for. Therefore, a dispassionate assessment of political leadership is needed in order to adjust our analysis. This article aims to identify the specific nature and distinctiveness of contemporary political leadership, arguing that the neglect of this issue by mainstream democratic theory is a consequence of an egalitarian bias that considers political leadership as in conflict with the ethos of democracy.
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