6.5.1.2 The Basis of Selection

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6512.htm)

In an authoritarian political system (6.3.1), public servants are appointed by assessing their capabilities and attempting to choose the best person for each job.  There are no politicians as such, but the public might well accept the process by which public servants have been chosen.  The system for choosing the leader of an authoritarian country depends upon whether it is a one-party State (6.3.1.2), a dictatorship (6.3.1.3) or an absolute monarchy (6.3.1.4).

In a democratic political system (6.3.2), politicians offer themselves for election – usually with the backing of a political party (6.2.6).  Voters choose politicians for a variety of reasons, as described earlier (6.3.2.2), which may be loosely connected to manifesto policies or to a feeling that the candidate is someone like them.

Anti-establishment sentiments have recently played a part in selecting politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.  Francis Fukuyama’s article about the 2016 election, American Political Decay or Renewal?, noted that “large numbers of voters on both sides of the spectrum have risen up against what they see as a corrupt, self-dealing Establishment, turning to radical outsiders [Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders] in the hopes of a purifying cleanse”.  Alberto Alemanno’s article in 2018, How Italy’s Five Star Movement could redefine populism, reported that “Italians turned their back on mainstream political forces and opted instead for two very different anti-establishment parties, the Five Star Movement and the League (formerly the Northern League)”.

When politicians have served a term of office in a democracy, the public can take their performance (6.3.3) into account before deciding whether or not to vote again for the same individual.

The practical problems, and need for safeguards, in choosing the right politicians to represent the population in any political system are discussed later in this chapter (6.8.2).

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