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Understanding Prime-Ministerial PerformanceComparative Perspectives$
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Paul Strangio, Paul 't Hart, and James Walter

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199666423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199666423.001.0001

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Prime-Ministerial Power Institutional and Personal Factors

Prime-Ministerial Power Institutional and Personal Factors

(p.57) 3 Prime-Ministerial Power Institutional and Personal Factors
Understanding Prime-Ministerial Performance

Keith Dowding

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that structure and agency interact in important ways for judging the power of prime ministers. It distinguishes between ‘power to’ and ‘power over’. Some leaders appear powerful because they win despite opposition, others can appear weak even though they get what they want, simply because they allow others who share their preferences to take the lead. Nevertheless, how strong a prime minister appears will also enable that prime minister to be powerful: reputation is an important power resource. The chapter shows that the institutional basis of prime-ministerial power lies in the extent to which they have the ability to autonomously appoint ministers, allocate portfolios to them, and assign tasks and organizational resources to those portfolios. Personal (particularly styles and reputations) and contextual factors then combine to determine to what extent prime ministers are able to fully exploit their institutional possibilities for becoming powerful and effective.

Keywords:   prime minister(s), power, institutional analysis, reputation, cabinet, ministers, leadership style

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