The dictator’s handbook provides a detailed account on how leaders seize and stay in power. Bruce Bueno describes all the underlying factors that influence an autocratic or democratic leader’s ability to maintain control of the state. He states that resource rich countries are generally the most oppressive states in the world because the leader only has to pay of the army to protect him and a small coalition that maintains control of the state resources. Wealthy, educated democracy are the least oppressive. Maintaining democratic rule directly corresponds to the leader’s ability to create effective policy that benefits the majority of her people. Governmental transparency always for the people of a democratic nation to analyze and scrutinize their leader’s abilities and oust him if they believe he doesn’t represent the majority.
Ultimately, Bueno is arguing that autocrats and democrats both are seeking the same thing, maintaining their hold on power. Bueno list three groups essential for a leaders political survival; the nominal selectorate, the real selectorate, and the winning coalition. A leaders political survival depends on his ability to balance the needs of these three groups and various factors influence how each group is treated by the leader. Autocrats, especially in resource rich countries, keep a small winning coalition and real selectorate base. The wealth is distributed only amongst those that have the power to influence the government and its leadership, since resource rich autocrats don’t rely on the people a very small number of people reap the rewards. Democracy different because democratic leaders rely on the good policy and majority approval to maintain their power. Therefore, they must distribute the wealth more uniformly and invest in education, healthcare, and infrastructure. The autocrats who lead a country that isn’t overtly rich in resources walk a thin line between keeping the public happy and maintain their hold on power. Bueno stated that no autocratic country has a university that ranks greater than 200th in the world. This is strategic because a smart citizen is a threat to the winning coalition. They must find a level of education that allows their citizens to perform their job but not question their authority. This autocrats are the most prone to citizen revolt.