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Summary 2002(3)

Summary


Gladstone and the invention of leadership in an imperfect democracy (Eugenio F. Biagini)

The essay outline's Gladstone's model of charismatic leadership, a model long paradigmatic for the British centre-left even though it was deeply embedded in the political, social and cultural system of Victorian England. The distinctive features of this model was its masterly (and very modern) use of the media in order to secure mass consensus, its close alliance with the nascent political parties, and its ability to steer popular demands so that they were compatible with political goals. These various features were flanked in Gladstone by an intense spiritual and religious commitment, which transmuted his political action into a veritable mission. According to the author, a power and influence which extended beyond the routine bureaucratic practices of government, and an ability to unite diverse classes and social groups in a truly national political programme, were the true attributes of Gladstone's modern democratic leadership.



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