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‘Asscher: a fine minister in a tough as well as successful coalition, but not the right PvdA leader at the right time’

16 March 2017
Janka Stoker

Once again it has been proven that there is no such thing as universal ‘good’ leadership. This is the conclusion drawn by UG professors Janka Stoker and Harry Garretsen of the In the Lead expertise centre in their analysis of the election results and the campaign preceding the elections. ‘In the end, the winner is always the party that has a leader who is effective at that specific moment and in that specific situation. PvdA lead candidate Lodewijk Asscher undeniably has leadership qualities, he performed well as minister in a tough coalition, and he is an excellent debater, but he wasn’t the right leader at the right time. On the other hand, a young fellow like Jesse Klaver, who managed to revitalise his party and inspire change, turned out to be a perfect leader for GroenLinks.’

‘Sometimes circumstances can be helpful, or leaders in power can have a little bit more clout to shape the circumstances – by demonstrating leadership at crucial moments, like Rutte did last weekend in the Turkey crisis. In the Netherlands as elsewhere, the success or failure of political leadership mainly depends on circumstances. Today’s winner can just as easily be tomorrow’s loser, and vice versa. We should therefore not over-romanticize the power of leadership – let that be consolation for Asscher.’

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