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date: 16 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In exercising leadership, prime ministers must attain the compliance of individuals such as cabinet ministers. The extent to which premiers can secure such cooperation depends to a substantial extent on personal and political considerations and circumstances. Consequently prime ministers depend upon forces that are not within their immediate control; and the bases for the authority of premiers are changeable. They are subject to what can be termed ‘power contingencies’. It is necessary to develop an analytical framework wide enough fully to incorporate the role of contingencies; and to assess patterns over time through historical analysis. Discussions of prime-ministerial power can be grouped into two broad schools. The first emphasizes prime-ministerial dominance; the second stresses the constraints upon the power of the premier, and tends to place greater emphasis on contingencies. An important theme in a number of theoretical approaches to the premiership is the relationship between individual premiers and the wider environment within which they function. Through applying historical and theoretical analysis, the authors identify various errors in existing literature. Research opportunities exist in the study of the operation of the UK premiership within the coalition government formed in 2010.

Keywords: prime ministers, British constitution, political power, leadership

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