Leaders clinging to office: Addicted to power

The age-old assumption that power is an aphrodisiac may not be as secure as it was before Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd, last October, brought Hollywood demagogue Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual predation to a shuddering end.

Even a figure as powerful as Weinstein, who could make or destroy careers as his appetites dictated, could not survive his victims’ enraged, if belated awakening.

Ashley Judd

Despite that, it might overindulge wishful thinking to imagine that power has lost all its come-hither lustre.

It has certainly lost none of its force as a narcotic.

All around the world, political leaders cling to it even if it means capitulation dressed as a pragmatic compromise.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, once described as the most powerful woman in the world, has made unimaginable concessions to stay in power.

British prime minister Theresa May is now defined more by her capacity to absorb humiliation than her capacity to make change.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin is going to the trouble of holding an election though noone knows why as the result is not, and never was, in doubt.

In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma clings to office even if he has lost all power.

In Ireland, President Michael D Higgins has given the broadest hint yet that he may stand for a second term. Mr Higgins is already 76 which is well beyond normal retirement age.

Is power with all its intrusions and responsibilities really such an unbreakable addiction?

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