6.4.2 Public Pressure and the Need for Popular Support

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/642.htm)

Interactions between individual citizens and politicians can be in both directions: people may want to influence politicians by communicating with them directly, and politicians want the support of the population – which may take the form of votes in a democracy (6.3.2) or tacit acceptance in an authoritarian system (  The need for support is a form of pressure on the politicians.

The following sub-sections describe different kinds of influence:

  • People can put pressure on politicians by directly expressing their concerns (, although there may be issues that constrain their ability to do so, as discussed later in this chapter (6.8.3).
  • Politicians might try to please the public by putting forward populist policies (
  • They can be tempted to use lies, misleading statistics and exaggeration to make arguments that suit them when trying to gain public support (
  • They can also use propaganda techniques to manipulate public opinion (
  • They often compete for popularity by criticising each other – and reduce each other’s legitimacy by doing so (
  • People and politicians can put pressure on each other by using social media on the Internet ( broadcasting argument, opinions and even ‘fake news’.



Next Section