Governing through Turbulence: Leadership and Change in the Late Twentieth Century

Governing through Turbulence: Leadership and Change in the Late Twentieth Century

Governing through Turbulence: Leadership and Change in the Late Twentieth Century

Governing through Turbulence: Leadership and Change in the Late Twentieth Century

Synopsis

This important study examines aspects of political leadership and governance in the last decades of the 20th century. Driven by innovations in science and technology, turbulent change has impacted nearly every political system and created a political environment of extreme complexity and fluidity. In this environment, previously dominant leaders, ideas, and institutions have been disempowered and new leaders and ideas empowered. This work examines seven world leaders, members of the first generation of political elites to assume power in the fluid political environment of the late 20th century. Two were heads of advanced industrial countries: Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom and Helmut Kohl of Germany. Three were leaders of states which underwent the transition from communist to postcommunist regimes: Lech Walesa of Poland, Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, and Boris Yeltsin of Russia. And two were leaders of important Third World states: Deng Xiaoping of China and Rajiv Gandhi of India. Each case study includes: (1) the political-economic context, (2) the operative elements of political turbulence in the domestic political environment, (3) a profile of the leader and his or her group, (4) the leader's political program, (5) strategies and means of achieving power, (6) the policy dimension, (7) the nature and scope of change, and (8) theories and interpretations of the leader and his or her political agenda. Through such analyses, the authors illustrate the scope, depth, and meaning of the most important recent political changes worldwide. The text will suit courses in international relations and comparative politics.

Excerpt

Recent works have described the last three decades of the twentieth century as an "age of turbulence" in which the speed, frequency, and scope of political change reached unprecedented levels. Driven by innovations in science and technology, turbulent change impacted nearly every political system and created a political environment of extreme complexity and fluidity. in the environment of turbulence, previously dominant leaders, ideas, and institutions were disempowered and a new generation of leaders came to power. However, these leaders confronted a growing number of political and economic constraints, which greatly complicated the tasks of governing and political management.

The seven leaders discussed in the following chapters are members of the first generation of political elites to assume power in the changed political environment of the late twentieth century. As such, they provide important case studies of "governing through turbulence." Two leaders were the heads of government of advanced industrial countries: Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1979-1990) and Helmut Kohl (Chancellor of Germany, 1982-present). Three were government leaders of states that underwent the transition from communist to postcommunist regimes: Lech Walesa (Solidarity movement leader, 1976-1991; President of Poland, 1990-- present), Mikhail Gorbachev (General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1985-1991; President of the Soviet Union, 1990-1991), and Boris Yeltsin (President of the Russian Republic, 1990-present). Two were leaders of important Third World states: Deng Xiaoping (de facto leader of the Communist Party of China after 1977) was China's most powerful po-

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