Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Let me challenge the idea that "no being elected to anything" is a disqualifier.

In the current media-dominated, postmodern, electioneering brand of politics, elections are to a large extent popularity contests. Substance in public political debates is low. We discuss whether politicians are photogenic (I don't think Ashton is) or charismatic.

To borrow terminology from Bob Altemeyer, the proportion of authoritarian social manipulators among elected politicians is higher than in the general population. Sociopaths are not only drawn to power but they are more successful at emotionally manipulating crowds. In addition, to be selected by a political party to be a candidate tends to require taking part in the mutual backscratching of the patronage networks underlying political parties.

Thus, we get Blair. And Sarkozy. And Berlusconi.

The other day there was the following in the Salon


Tony Blair May Covet EU Presidency, But He's No Belgian Haiku Master - WSJ.com
Mr. Rompuy is the right man, Belgian political scientist Tobias Van Assche argued in a paper published last week by the University of Antwerp. After all, the 62-year-old Belgian scored low in a measure of "self-confidence" and "will to power."
to which I answered
If he got to Prime Minister nonetheless, it means that he probably has enough of both, and simply scored "relatively low" among the sociopathic manipulators he has for peers.
From what I've read about Ashton she's the kind of person that just gets down to work. Clearly she doesn't have the inclination or ability for electoral politics. But nobody has claimed she has been incompetent at any of her appointments. She was, indeed, appointed Commissioner to replace Peter Mandelson (a double-high sociopathic manipulator as referenced above) with 18 months left of a 5 year term and so she was probably chosen because nobody else wanted the job. Nobody expected her to achieve much anyway. But reports are that she is well respected in Brussels because of her work over these 18 months.

Let me give you another example: Jadranka Kosor of Croatia.

Croatia had a charismatic Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader. He got locked into a dispute with Slovenia's Borut Pahor which delayed Croatia's EU accession negotiations for over a year. Then he resigned abruptly and installed Kosor as his replacement. Apparently Kosor wasn't well respected in Croatia, even though she had even been a Presidential candidate, most people considered her to be an airhead. However, she happens to be one of those people who sit down and quietly do their job. One of the first things she did when she assumed office was to whip all the ministers into shape demanding a quick report from each of them. It appears they were shocked. She also has solved the diplomatic dispute with Slovenia in less than 6 months, though it is possible that the Croatian public or parliament won't like the deal she's struck. Her popularity seems to be suitably high at this point. But hey, at the time of her appointment people's perception of her was coloured by the current president's quip during the presidential election that pitted the two of them that all she was good for was coming out of a cake at a party.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:18:12 AM EST
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