The rise of new leftwing leaders such as Alexis Tsipras, the 40 yr-old secretary of Syriza in Greece, and of Pablo Iglesias, the 36 yr-old figurehead of the 11-month old Podemos party in Spain, provides an interesting political conundrum. If Tsipras is now tipped to win in a snap election in 2015, and if Iglesias’ party has recently been polled as the first in Spain, it is because of the way in which the two political personalities have managed to surf the wave of popular discontent manifested in the so-called “movements of the squares”: the indignados who occupied Puerta del Sol in Madrid, and the aganaktismenoi who occupied Syntagma square in Athens during the Spring and Summer of 2011.

But – here lies the paradox – the movements from which these leaders have drawn so much energy, are precisely those which together with their US cousins of Occupy Wall Street have popularised the ugly term “leaderlessness”, in the sense of absence of leadership, as their fundamental ethical principle. So how have we gone from “leaderlessness” to the current love for leaders? And what is the political meaning of this return of “personalised leadership” on the left? [Read more] – Michael’s Blog