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The role of personality in politics: Ashton, Barroso and Van Rompuy, Trinity at EU?

Jurriaan Middelhoff, Christ’l De Landtsheer

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This article is the first scientific study into the political personalities of European Union leaders. It investigates the personalities of the permanent president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, the European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, and the president of the Commission José Barroso. The aim is to determine whether there is any psychological reason to suspect a possible power struggle between the personalities of Van Rompuy, Ashton and Barroso. The power division between the new leaders of EU, has indeed, as a consequence of the Treaty of Lisbon in the European Union, given rise to speculations about a possible struggle for power. This is in particular due to the complex judicial relations between the three positions, and the still unclear competences of all positions in the foreign relations area of EU. This article will approach this discussion from a different angle than the judicial debate. In order to be able to portray the profile of the current giants of European Foreign policy, the article will build upon the theories of two main disciplines: psychological profiling and European governance. A psychological profile of all actors will be completed on the basis of the method of political profiling by Aubrey Immelman (e.g. 2004). Before that, the article explains the judicial question marks that surround the top positions in the EU at the moment, and the Immelman profiling method itself. It concludes with a discussion on the consequences of the results in the light of the judicial issues.

Keywords: political profiling – European Union – personality


Bibliography: Middelhoff, Jurriaan/De Landtsheer, Christ’l: The role of personality in politics: Ashton, Barroso and Van Rompuy, Trinity at EU?, PCS, 2-2013, pp. 260-273.