By Patrick Spread

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36 The problems can be ascribed, fundamentally, to the introduction, through economic theory, of the natural scientific and rational approach to phenomena into a sphere in which questions of perception unstabilised by the presence of material objects are paramount. Public choice theorists are obliged to provide themselves with stable elements on which to base a rational-scientific approach, and this is done largely by assumption, and largely by tacit assumption. 54. They assume, in the first place, the existence of votes -the semistable element that is the pivotal phenomenon for the entry of economic theorists into political theory.

That is why we have politics. To lay down and enforce criteria of merit in budgeting would be, in effect, to deny the need for politics by decided what the government shall do in advance. 8 Agreement and support on questions of merit are not easily separated, though the former seems connected with matters of intellect, while the latter is more 'political'. Such questions are considered further in the context of group support bargaining processes and fact formation in Chapters 4 and 6, while this and other aspects ofWildavsky's work are considered in Chapter 7.

It is thus rational for parties to present ambiguous policies. In the face of such ambiguity, however, voters are unable to identify where their maximum utility lies. e. on the personalities of candidates, traditional family voting patterns, loyalty to past party heroes, etc. But only the parties' decisions on issues are relevant to voters' utility incomes from government. We are forced to conclude that rational behaviour by political parties tends to discourage rational behaviour by voters. 43 59.

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