Elite Persistence, Power Struggles, and Coalition Dynamics
39 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2023
Date Written: September 1, 2019
We study why a ruling minority (the elite) inevitably emerges from power struggles. Power struggles are modeled as iterative coalition formations where players use their power to form alliances and eliminate others without formal commitment. We show that when players can strategically relinquish power, i.e., burn power, it allows a vested interested group to commit to a smaller ruling circle, but also enables outsiders to preemptively cede power to deter regime changes. This ensures the survival of the weak at the cost of power centralization. The elite persist after power perturbations if their commitment to the ruling circle remains intact. The persistence is softened when the weak is productive, when there are external threats, but, surprisingly, not when there are external arbitrators.
Keywords: Power Struggles, Power Relinquishment, Coalition Formation, Elite Persistence
JEL Classification: D72, D74, O43, P41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation