Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had the perfect recipe for success. From being the son of a beloved Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, to the fashion outlets’ favourite ‘best-dressed world leader’, he had the support, the ambition and the love of millions to make it in politics. Hundreds have tried to crack his ‘playbook’, and several world leaders have been attempting to imitate him. He stayed afloat through multiple big crises that not many world leaders would survive. While his reputation isn’t where it was 5-10 years ago, Canada’s ‘golden boy’ has undeniably been one of the ‘rockstars’ of global politics. What can we learn about political charisma from ‘love it or hate it’ Justin Trudeau?
Relatability of political leaders, a good or bad thing?
In politics, charisma is the ability of leaders and candidates to attract, charm and influence voters. While relatability is often synonymised with charisma, it’s just one aspect of it. Experts and academics have quite substantially studied the charisma of political leaders. In Harvard University Professor Joseph S. Nye’s view, charisma originates not simply in the individual politician but also in his followers or the socio-political context of the time. He claims that charisma tells voters
“something about a candidate, but even more about themselves, the mood of the country, and their desire for change.”
It is important to remember that political charisma is neither inherently positive nor negative nor guarantees successful leadership. Charisma is a finite and abstract concept that requires a lot of creativity and discipline to maintain. It’s not random that different cultures and societies may have varying perceptions of what constitutes charisma in politics. It’s simply a tool entirely in the hands of its owner and recipient.