Political leadership in national, transnational and global contexts

Political leadership, once famously described as one of „the most observed and least understood phenomena“ in politics and beyond, has more recently powerfully (re-)entered international political science. While it has remained contested if, to what extent, and under what circumstances individual leaders may make a difference, it is broadly acknowledged that leadership – understood as a complex social relationship and a process – does matter for the solution of collective problems. The most prominent notions of leadership are no doubt related to holders of powerful political office, such as, and in particular, presidents and prime ministers. Yet, leadership can be found virtually everywhere, including notoriously leadership-hostile collective actors, such as social movements. Also, leadership, both as a cause and an effect, is not confined to one particular level. Rather, manifestations and patterns of political leadership in national, transnational and global context tend to be closely related with each other, which is particularly obvious with regard to political leadership in the European Union. Leadership-related research agendas pursued at the Centre are theoretically informed and driven by the ambition to look at leadership phenomena from a historically and internationally comparative perspective. Special emphasis is given to comparative assessments of prime ministerial and presidential leadership, and leadership performance, in different types of political regimes. But there is a wide range of related topics that are also being studied, such as: oppositional leadership, leadership and innovation, and women and leadership. Exemplary publications in this field include:


Ludger Helms (guest editor) (2016), Symposium on „Political Leadership in the European Union“, European Political Science, advance online publication, 4 March 2016; doi:10.1057/eps.2015.113.

Ludger Helms (2016), Democracy and Innovation: From Institutions to Agency and Leadership, Democratization 23, pp. 459-477.

Ludger Helms (2015), Is There a Presidentialization of US Presidential Leadership? A European Perspective on Washington, Acta Politica 50, pp. 1-19.

Ludger Helms (2014), Global Political Leadership in the Twenty-first Century: Problems and Prospects, Contemporary Politics 20, pp. 261-277.

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