Inside the Political Mind
The Human Side of Politics and How It Shapes Development
Selected as one of the ‘Best New Politics Books’ in the Financial Times
Why have efforts to strengthen quality of governance so often failed in some of the world’s most troubled states? Because they almost always ignore the human side of politics.
Drawing on his experience of working with hundreds of politicians in more than sixty countries, Greg Power explores how social norms, public expectations and the personal interests of MPs influence the path of political development.
Where states are weak, politicians solve problems by going around the state. From Tanzania and Nepal to Iraq and Ukraine, voters actually want MPs who can find informal fixes, and a reciprocal logic holds the system in place. But this also means that weak institutions tend to stay weak.
Combining insights from behavioural economics, change management and comparative politics, this fascinating book argues for a different approach to political reform, one concerned less with institutional design and more with the existing logic of human behaviour. One that starts inside the political mind, and works outwards from there.
‘Beautifully observed, elegantly written, wry, understated and thoughtful.’ — Rory Stewart
‘An intriguing and scholarly work… its key concept is to start with real motivations and behaviour, not something that looks good on paper.’ — Financial Times
‘[An] insightful book on behaviour and political reform.’ — The Guardian
‘A fascinating insider’s perspective on geopolitics, global diplomacy, problem solving and conflict resolution—and how radically different it seems viewed from the outside.’ — Peter Hain, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
‘In lively prose enriched with compelling real-life examples, Power builds a persuasive case … His insights about what politics look like from the inside rather than the outside point the way forward to better understanding—and better action.’ — Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
‘Behavioural meets political science – and what a fascinating and important collision. Greg Power unpacks the deep logic of the personal and political to make sense of the world’s strangest, most criticized and most important profession.’ — David Halpern, author of Inside the Nudge Unit and President of Behavioural Insights Team
‘Fun to read and full of amazing stories about the “odd” behaviour of politicians in developing countries. Politicians everywhere and those who try to understand them will enjoy and learn much from this book.’ — Mushtaq Khan, Professor of Economics, SOAS University of London
Greg Power OBE, previously a special adviser to UK Ministers Robin Cook and Peter Hain, has been involved in constitutional and democratic change since the mid-1990s. Since 2005, his organisation, Global Partners Governance Practice, has helped to strengthen political systems across Asia, the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.