To What Extent Do The Media Encourage Leadership Voting?

Essay by jburns08B+, April 2009

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The presidentialisation of power and the practice of leadership voting are two recent phenomena within the political landscape of the United Kingdom. In the course of this essay I will seek to assess two things, firstly - how the media encourages leadership voting and if it is indeed the most dominant factor in creating a more leader orientated political system within the UK and secondly - if the media is encouraging voters to act irrationally. In order to do this I will highlight and analyse the foremost examples of the media promoting leadership voting in the past as well as looking at the underlying fundamental ideas as to how the media can influence voters and if they can indeed make voters act irrationally.

It may not be instantly apparent that the media are encouraging leadership voting but after conducting research on the topic it is clear that by using different techniques on varying levels that the media are most definitely presidentalising the political system of the U.K.

There are many ways in which the media are achieving this effect but the first and most significant means is the personalisation of party leaders. This can be broken down into three separate areas:'presidentialisation of presentation, a shift in the distribution of power towards leaders and an associated increase in leaders' overall mediated visibility.' (Poguntke: 2005, p.43).

An integral part of encouraging leadership voting, that is persuading people to disregard party politics and vote for the person that they'd most like to be Prime Minister based upon their personality and attributes, is promoting the leader as the main public face of the political party or cabinet by increasing the amount of coverage devoted to them.

'It is clear that from 1945-99, there was a profound increase in the average number of articles...