Sociology Index

Political Capital

Social Capital, Human Capital

Political capital is the belief that a politician has a legitimate political power to enact policy. Political capital is gained through elections by pursuing policies that have public support and favoring other politicians.

Political capital may be gainfully spent or wasted through failed attempts to promote unpopular policies. Political capital is supposed to be highest in the "honeymoon period" of a presidency. The support in congress enables the president to use his honeymoon period and political capital to pass what he considers ideal legislation.

Political Capital Conceptualization: Reclaiming the Heart of Democracy - Nayden, Nikolay Jordanov - Sofia University
The term, political capital, has shown remarkable persistence in academic and popular literatures and covers aspects of politics otherwise inaccessible to mainstream political science. This article attempts to correct conceptual deficiencies for the term, political capital, by examining its academic usage and concludes with an argument that:

(i) political capital is engendered in the relations between publics and politics, and

(ii) rethinks the significance and meaning of political capital for contemporary political science.

Untangling Social and Political Capital in Latin American Democracies - John A. Booth, Patricia Bayer Richard - Latin American Politics and Society
Volume 54, Issue 3, pages 33–64, Fall 2012
Robert Putnam extolled the virtue of social capital by arguing that social networks, civil society, and trust contribute to democracy. Subsequent research, however, identified a weakness in the social capital “model” in its underspecification of the mechanisms by which social capital affects political systems. This article proposes the concept of political capital as a likely product of social capital that links civil society participants to the political system. The article tests this two-stage model of social capital and political capital and their effects on democratization using survey data from eight Latin American nations. Results find that civil society engagement in 2004 affected political capital variables, which, in turn, had positive effects on system-level democracy measures in 2010. The article thus shows that political capital serves as an intervening variable between social capital and democracy and democratization.

Finding political capital for monetary tightening: Unemployment insurance and partisan monetary cycles - DESPINA ALEXIADOU - European Journal of Political Research - Volume 51, Issue 6, pages 809–836, October 2012
How do governments find the political capital to raise interest rates in pursuit of inflation stabilisation? Against common wisdom, this article shows that the ability of governments to exercise tight monetary policy largely depends on the level of unemployment insurance. Unemployment insurance is particularly useful to social democratic parties since their core constituency – labour – is the hardest hit by economic downturns. Empirical evidence from 17 OECD countries over thirty years demonstrates that high levels of unemployment insurance present a strong incentive for social democratic governments to respond more aggressively to positive changes in inflation. These findings resolve the puzzle of why partisan monetary cycles are not often observed in the literature and have important policy implications, given continued calls for scaling down social insurance.