Chapter

Do Leaders' Personalities Really Matter?

Anthony King

in Leaders' Personalities and the Outcomes of Democratic Elections

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199253135
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599675 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199253137.003.0001
Do Leaders' Personalities Really Matter?

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This is an introductory chapter, which starts with a general discussion of whether leaders’ personalities really matter in determining the outcome of democratic elections, and then considers a number of preliminary points before the country analyses are presented in the following six chapters. The first point is to differentiate between the indirect influences a leader can have on voters and an election outcome (via his influence on his political party or government or administration) and the direct influence of a candidate’s personality or personal characteristics; this book is about the latter. The second point is to define what is meant by ‘personality or personal characteristics’, and the next two points are a discussion of why leaders’ attributes might, or might not, be thought to matter. The fifth point is to suggest analytical strategies for disentangling the effects of leaders’ personalities or personal characteristics from other factors; the three advanced are the experimental, improved–prediction and counterfactual strategies. Next, previous analytical findings are presented for the six countries studied in the book (United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Russia), and finally, hypotheses are offered for explaining when the impact of candidates’ personalities or personal characteristics might be greatest.

Keywords: Britain; Canada; candidates' personal characteristics; candidates' personalities; democratic elections; France; Germany; leaders' personalities; Russia; United States

Chapter.  21174 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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