The Coalition Force

Bueno de Mesquita and Smith clearly stipulate the characteristics, rules and how autocracies and democracies can and should operate. As they mentioned, autocratic regimes have fewer people to please, who form their “essentials.” And pleasing them means you have a limited number of people to work with, though requires huge sums of money. Because the autocrat was not elected, he basically owes nothing the larger population. It’s all about himself, his “influencials” and essentials.” Incorporating a larger population, the “interchangeable,” means you are accountable to the nation. That prevents the leader from satisfying only a few people he or she trusts and could protect him from enemies or potential threats to the seat of government. A larger coalition also means that each citizen, whether they voted for you or not, must benefit from the public good. A lack of public good will see that leader exiting the stage. If everything goes as expected, the “interchangeable” will ensure they stayed in power and continued their work. That way, you have their support, your government gains legitimacy and favor.

For authoritarian regimes, what they could learn is that, it is better to have the support of the larger population to cement their leadership, rather than a few cronies who will switch camps when the tables turn. Their betrayal means the downfall of that regime. Their inner members cannot always be trusted, and that they are not safe at all.

4 thoughts on “The Coalition Force

  1. The difficulty with authoritarian regimes needing more support, as we illustrated in class today, is that the goal of most authoritarian regimes is to keep as much of their power, and supplies/money to themselves. While it would be possible for authoritarian governments to broaden their support, it is also difficult to do so when it seems to counter the goals of an authoritarian government in the first place.

  2. I think an extension of this thread also is that since most dictators want to keep the supplies/money to themselves–they have a better chance of holding on to those resources if they are only interacting and sharing those resources with a small number of people. Although one of the big risks with only trusting a few is that a small group of them can change sides and overtake you–it seems that Bueno de Mesquita and Smith are attempting to argue that you are more likely to see that phenomenon in groups of larger coalitions–because it becomes challenging to pay them all off.

  3. This book really put an interesting perspective of thinking about democracy. It really doesn’t differ much from other governmental setups expect in their support base. It also seems too simple to say that just support base makes that big of a difference between the two forms of govt. Also I think the author underestimates the power of a large organized nominal class that pushes for certain liberties and freedoms.

  4. I agree that authoritarian rulers should try to broaden their rule and support the general population, but unfortunately most authoritarian rulers aren’t altruistic. As mentioned if an authoritarian ruler can hoard all of a countries resources and wealth and pay off the right people, then their isn’t really a threat to their power. Al-Assad is a good example, his entire state collapsed and went into civil war yet he was able to pay the right people and implement the right strategies to keep his hold on Syria’s wealth.

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