Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mitchell A. Seligson
Political stability is an elusive concept, one that is difficult to define and operationalize. In simplest terms (and, as will be seen, the concept simplest terms can itself be misleading), stable political systems are those in which governance and the transfer of power occur in regular, predictable ways. When we think of stable political systems, therefore, we think of those that hold regular elections and incumbents who vacate offices and allow opponents to take over those offices. We also envision systems in which protests are not widespread, especially violent, or challenging to the basic system of governance. As is evident from this definition, however, stable systems that are not democratic would seem to be excluded from it. Yet dictatorships can last for decades and, thus, in this sense, are stable. Consequently, we must acknowledge that the proposed definition is problematic, and so we need to think more deeply about Two ...