When groups wanting to establish different political structures compete, who will win? Here is a simple model.    Let’s say one group wants (full) democracy and one group wants a theo-autocracy.  The winner will be determined in large part by the costs these groups are willing to incur.  That is limited by the long run benefit of keeping the winning system in place.

When both groups are strong, the value of democracy is handicapped by the fact that the authoritarians will be granted participation in the process and this will be a constant threat to the system.  By constrast the authoritarians internalize more of the benefits from winning the struggle because it is a defining feature of that system that the supporters of democracy will be excluded.

This means that the incentives of even a small minority of authoritarians may outweigh a majority who seek democracy.