Political Leadership and Sovereignty

Prokhovnik, Raia (2009). Political Leadership and Sovereignty. In: Femia, Joseph; Koroscenyi, Andras and Slomp, Gabriella eds. Political Leadership in Liberal and Democratic Theory. Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, pp. 151–176.


Raia Prokhovnik makes the case that clarifying the relation between leadership and sovereighty is central to understanding the role of political leadership in politics, and to comprehending and redressing the neglect of political leadership in mainstream strands of democratic theory. As a first step, Prokhovnik analyses the 'three faces' of leadership and explains how traditional ideas of political leadership are under threat, through challenges to the identity of the state, to the identity of the political process, and to the identity of international politics. For Prokhovnik the democratic tradition fails to integrate the concept of leadership into its theory and is unable to enhance our understanding of its meanings and functions. The mainstream notion of sovereignty as 'ruler sovereignty', and the traditional dichotomy between legal and political sovereignty, do not capture our political experiences and add little to understanding and rethinking political leadership. According to Prokhovnik, the effectiveness of political leadership in all its faces can be enhanced by recognising the way in which 'the political property' of sovereignty operates. Prokhovnik explains how the political property of sovereignty that she outlines links with - and differs from - the dominant notion of political culture. Finally she emphasises its strong normative dimension.

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