There are leaders who surround themselves with the best and others who opt for the loyal; leaders who build bridges and others who build strengths; leaders who encourage the growth of relays and others who cut everything that stands out around them. These dichotomies in the interpretation of leadership thoroughly mark European politics these days.
In the foreground, we have just attended this week a government reshuffle in the United Kingdom with a stark commitment to expand the control of Prime Minister Boris Johnson over key areas of the Executive. The offensive has led to the departure of the exchequer chancellor, Sajiv Javid, who was not willing to continue in the post with the weakened role that Johnson intended to assign him (and his replacement by another politician who was). The representative for Northern Ireland, who achieved the unlocking of the prolonged political paralysis in that territory, was dismissed for acting with excessive autonomy, according to the British press.
In the background, the question of Angela Merkel’s relief in Germany is raised. After 15 years of power, the uncertainty is maximum, and is projected throughout the continent due to the influence of the country. No doubt there are unpredictable and independent elements of the chancellor’s will. In a full democracy, the succession of a leader must be a process detached from his wishes. But leaders do have a responsibility to promote the growth of relief options. It is worth asking if in this section Merkel’s balance is satisfactory.
In a third plane, also a succession, but very different from the previous one, Europe looks astonished at the sudden and mysterious movement of Vladimir Putin to channel the transition of power in Russia. In this case there is no doubt that for two decades the Russian president has applied scientifically to prevent the growth of clear relief options.
Returning to Western Europe, there are also many parties managed with logical Cainites or winner takes all. In Spain, for example, this is practically the norm. After the affirmation of a leader, instead of building bridges with the defeated sectors, large purges and the constitution of homogeneous directives usually take place to the point of preventing no more cacophony, but even harmony in chords. It is a single voice with a chorus that accompanies the same note. Those who have their own voice, if not purged, end up leaving out of exhaustion.
It does not have to be this way. An example? Barack Obama offered the position of Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton after a hard battle in the primaries and confirmed as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who had served in the previous Republican Administration.
Control or delegate. Banish or co-opt. Chop or cultivate. There is probably not a valid recipe always, but usually the first side of these input dichotomies smells of fear and weakness; and in the end it ends in impoverishment.