Latest Issue

Political notes

Our politicians yearn to be charismatic. Yet Angela Merkel is popular and charisma free. What might they take from her example?

By Anne McElvoy   October 2009

Party conferences these days aren’t really conferences at all. They are spectacles: displays of mass solidarity on the way to triumph—or disaster. And, of course, orchestrated charisma-fests. See how David Cameron juts out a leadership-jaw, cajoling, bossing, joking with the audience and (more importantly) the cameras. A shadow cabinet member told me that watching his boss at conference was like “watching someone having sex with the delegates.” Figuratively, I take it.

No one has accused Gordon Brown of flirting with his audiences. The PM suffers from a weird anti-charisma. The qualities cited as his strengths by those who know him…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect