Link to the E-book “Journeys anthology”.
Defined as “the sub-set of the selectorate whose support is necessary for the leader to remain in power”, the winning coalition, as shown above in Figure 3, is very important in determining whether a non-democratic regime can survive; the larger it becomes as a proportion of the selectorate, the greater the likelihood of the next most popular regime being able to take power. The size itself is mainly influenced by the type of authoritarian regime, and is particularly small in the case of monarchies, which, in the case of hereditary monarchies, only require the approval of a branch of the ruling family in order to survive. As explained by Bueno de Mesquita et al., “in autocratic systems, the winning coalition is often a small group of powerful individuals. [Thus] when a challenger emerges to the sitting leader and proposes an alternative allocation of resources, [the leader thwarts the challenge since he or she] retains a winning coalition”; the size of which is in an inverse relationship with the likelihood of successful challenge, since fewer people must be ‘bought-off’. In fact, “the Selectorate Theory (Bueno de Mesquita et al., 2005) theorises that it is the size difference between the selectorate and the winning coalition […] that is most important” in influencing the survival of non-democratic regimes. This theory has, however, received much criticism. Largely, the extent to which it is true, that having a small winning coalition is the most significant factor affecting the survival of non-democratic regimes, is dependent on how stable the regime appears to be, since “high political instability should reduce the effect of corruption, because actors have less incentive to bribe a government when it is unlikely to survive”, meaning the loyalty of the ruler’s winning coalition may become less effective. Thus, in reality, if a challenge to power did arise, the ruler may not be able to rely on his winning coalition if they were, in fact, more confident in the challenger overthrowing the incumbent, as in this circumstance it is highly likely that they would switch allegiances. Furthermore, Clark and Stone argue that Bueno de Mesquita et al.’s analysis “suffers from omitted variable analysis [which] can make the results appear stronger than they are. Once this error is corrected, the results are no longer interesting.” This empirically undermines the foundations of the theory which Bueno de Mesquita et al. try to argue.>GET ANSWER