In the “cynical portrayal of politics” (words from horse’s mouth indeed), Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith in their book “The Dictator’s Handbook” have identified three fundamental rules of politics: 1) No one does politics for benefits of others rather for one’s own interest, 2) There are certain rules to rule by, follow them otherwise you will be nowhere, and 3) You have to have group of people as your supporters. The third rule which they have named as “Selectorate” theory is the one of the most important determining factor for politics as it can make the government a democracy or an authoritarian regime. When the first and the third one intertwined to each other, they give the basic rule for any of the governmental form which is “hold onto power, no matter what.” Basic difference between the democracy and the authoritarian government is that, for remaining on power the later one mostly depends on a close distribution of resources whilst the first one systematically distribute more resources to the larger population.
The selectorate theory, in their writing, Masquita and Smith have talked about three group: 1) Nominal selectorate, 2) Real selectorate and 3) the Winning Coalition. Though sometimes the terms were used a bit interchangeably (and a little bit of confusing perhaps only to me), the real selectorate and the winning coalition are the major role player for the government’s power. In autocracies, the rulers are prone to keep a small winning coalition. For them a big winning coalition can create a problematic situation where this demands diffusion of resources among more numbers. Interestingly, having a very small winning coalition can also pose threat to the autocratic leader, hence the autocratic government would like to have a winning coalition of “just-the-right-amount!” On the contrary,systematically democracy are supposed to have larger winning coalition which is for the democracies is a part of the real selectorates. In a democracy, a larger winning coalition can act as an instrument of check-and-balance for the government. Furthermore, distribution of resources to a larger group guarantee (less) corruption which the autocracy cannot afford to have. Thus, it is often very much visible in the democracies, in comparison to the autocracies, that they have better governance and better public services like education, public infrastructures and health care systems. Otherwise, the mass will revolt and can make the government to step down. Just in this way, the autocracies do not have great educational systems, as more educated persons mean larger threat to their power.
The interesting learning I got from the interesting write up (though with repetitive examples), whatever strategies the government are choosing are necessarily associated to their needs of remaining on power, not for the “great good of humanity.” Even so, democracy can definitely provide better services for the public in comparison to the authoritarian regimes.