Political Science Now

Five Laws of Politics

 

The author presents five laws of politics.  (1) All governments, certainly in dictatorships but also in democracies, can count on the votes of only a minority of the electorate, even if in democracies that minority represents a plurality that is much larger than the combination that supports a dictatorship.  (2) In the developed democracies, incumbents are reelected more than half the time, an advantage probably derived at least in part from their exploitation of state resources.  (3) Nevertheless, it is rare for an incumbent party to win more than a few points over 60%, and it never happens twice within the same spell in office.  (4) Moreover, on average incumbents lose support from term to term, save some exceptions, usually early in their tenure in office that are offset in subsequent elections.  (5) In democracies, this results in alternation in office.  Dictatorships are not exempt from the law of shrinking support.  The moment a free election is held, erstwhile single or dominant parties crash and often disappear from the political scene.  The conclusion is inescapable:  the state is a plurality.  No organic conception of the political community captures its essence, for it is subject to what might be called “the law of partials.”

Five Laws of Politics by  Alfred G. Cuzán, appears in PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 48 / Issue 03 / July 2015, pp 415 – 419.