You are on page 1of 94

Political Clientelism Dossier

Prepared for the November 5–6, 2010 Conference on

“Political Clientelism, Social Policy, and the Quality of Democracy:
Evidence from Latin America, Lessons from Other Regions”
Organized by Grupo FARO and
The International Forum for Democratic Studies

1. Scott W. Desposato, “How Does Vote Buying Shape the Legislative Arena?,” in
Elections for Sale: The Causes and Consequences of Vote Buying, ed. Frederic
Charles Schaffer (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2007), pp. 101–122.
2. Anna Grzymala-Busse, “Beyond Clientelism: Incumbent State Capture and State
Formation,” Comparative Political Studies 41, no. 4–5 (April 2008), pp. 638–673.
3. Paul D. Hutchcroft, “The Politics of Privilege: Assessing the Impact of Rents,
Corruption, and Clientelism on Third World Development,” Political Studies 45,
no. 3 (1997), pp. 649–658.
4. Phillip Keefer and Razvan Vlaicu, “Democracy, Credibility, and Clientelism,”
Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 24, no. 2 (April 2008), pp. 371–406.
5. Philip Keefer, “Clientelism, Credibility, and the Policy Choices of Young
Democracies,” American Journal of Political Science 51, no. 4 (October 2007),
pp. 804–821.
6. Mushtaq H. Khan, “Markets, States, and Democracy: Patron-Client Networks and
the Case for Democracy in Developing Countries,” Democratization 12, no. 5
(December 2005), pp. 704–724.
7. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson, “Citizen-Politician Linkages: An
Introduction,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of Democratic
Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I.
Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 1–49.
8. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson, “A Research Agenda for the Study of
Citizen-Politician Linkages and Democratic Accountability” in Patrons, Clients,
and Policies: Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition,
ed. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2007), pp. 322–343.
9. Luigi Manzetti and Carole J. Wilson, “Why Do Corrupt Governments Maintain
Public Support?” Comparative Political Studies 40, no. 8 (August 2007), pp. 949–
10. Simeon Nichter, “Vote Buying or Turnout Buying? Machine Politics and the
Secret Ballot,” American Political Science Review 102, no. 1 (February 2008), pp.
11. Frederic Charles Schaffer, “Lessons Learned,” in Elections for Sale: The Causes
and Consequences of Vote Buying, ed. Frederic Charles Schaffer (Boulder: Lynne
Rienner, 2007), pp. 183–200.

12. Michael Bratton, “Formal versus Informal Institutions in Africa,” Journal of
Democracy 18, no. 3 (July 2007), pp. 96–110.
13. Staffan I. Lindberg and Minion K.C. Morrison, “Are African Voters Really
Ethnic or Clientelistic? Survey Evidence From Ghana,” Political Science
Quarterly 123, no. 1 (Spring 2008), pp. 95–122.
14. Pedro C. Vicente and Leonard Wantchekon, “Clientelism and Vote Buying:
Lessons From Field Experiments in African Elections,” Oxford Review of
Economic Policy 25, no. 2 (Summer 2009), pp. 292–305.
15. Nicolas van de Walle, “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss? The
Evolution of Political Clientelism in Africa,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies:
Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert
Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2007), pp. 50–67.
16. Nicolas van de Walle, “Presidentialism and Clientelism in Africa’s Emerging
Party Systems,” Journal of Modern African Studies 41, no. 2 (June 2003), pp.

17. Anirudh Krishna, “Politics in the Middle: Mediating Relationships between the
Citizens and the State in Rural North India,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies:
Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert
Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2007), pp. 141–158.
18. Bruce Kam-Kwan Kwong, “Patron-Client Politics in Hong Kong: A Case Study
of the 2002 and 2005 Chief Executive Elections,” Journal of Contemporary
China 16, no. 52 (August 2007), pp. 389–415.
19. Emmanuel Teitelbaum and Tariqu Thachil, “Party Fragmentation and the
Emergence of Programmatic Spending in the Indian States,” paper presented at
conference on “Redistribution, Public Goods & Political Market Failures,” April
9–10, 2010, Yale University.
20. Steven I. Wilkinson, “Explaining Changing Patterns of Party-Voter Linkages in
India,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of Democratic Accountability
and Political Competition, ed. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 110–140.

Latin America
21. Javier Auyero, “The Logic of Clientelism in Argentina: An Ethnographic
Account,” Latin American Research Review 35, no. 3 (2000), pp. 55–81.
22. Valeria Brusco, Marcelo Nazareno, and Susan C. Stokes, “Vote Buying In
Argentina,” Latin American Research Review 39, no. 2 (2004), pp. 66–88.
23. Ernesto Calvo and Maria Victoria Murillo, “Who Delivers? Partisan Clients in the
Argentine Electoral Market,” American Journal of Political Science 48, no. 4
(October 2004), pp. 742–757.
24. Daniel J. Epstein, “Clientelism versus Ideology: Problems of Party Development
in Brazil,” Party Politics 15, no. 3 (May 2009), pp. 335–355.
25. Jonathan Fox, “The Difficult Transition from Clientelism to Citizenship: Lessons
from Mexico,” World Politics 46, no. 2 (January 1994), pp. 151–84.
26. Ezequiel Gonzalez-Ocantos, Chad Kiewiet de Jone, Carlos Melendez, Javier
Osorio, and David W. Nickerson, “Vote Buying and Social Desirability Bias:
Experimental Evidence from Nicaragua,” paper presented at conference on
“Redistribution, Public Goods, & Political Market Failure,” April 9–10, 2010,
Yale University.
27. Susan C. Stokes, “Perverse Accountability: A Formal Model of Machine Politics
with Evidence from Argentina,” American Political Science Review 99, no. 3
(August 2005), pp. 315–325.
28. Mariela Szwarcberg, “Who Monitors? Clientelism and Democratic
Representation in Argentine Municipalities,” paper presented at conference on
“Redistribution, Public Goods & Political Market Failures,” April 9–10, 2010,
Yale University.
29. Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro, “Choosing Clientelism: Political Competition, Poverty,
and Social Welfare Policy in Argentina,” paper presented at conference on
“Redistribution, Public Goods & Political Market Failure,” April 9–10, 2010,
Yale University.

Middle East
30. Ellen Lust, “Competitive Clientelism in the Middle East,” Journal of Democracy
20, no. 3 (July 2009), pp. 122–135.

Postcommunist Europe and Eurasia

31. Klarita Gërxhani and Arthur Schram, “Clientelism and Polarized Voting:
Empirical Evidence,” Public Choice 141, no. 3–4 (December 2009), pp. 305–317.
32. Henry E. Hale, “Correlates of Clientelism: Political Economy, Politicized
Ethnicity, and Post-Communist Transition,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies:
Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert
Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2007), pp. 227–250.

1. Scott W. Desposato, “How Does Vote Buying Shape the Legislative Arena?,” in
Elections for Sale: The Causes and Consequences of Vote Buying, ed. Frederic
Charles Schaffer (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2007), pp. 101–122.
Legislators’ use of private or public goods to win elections impacts their behavior
once in office. Although all legislators face the dual challenges of providing goods and
claiming credit, the difficulty of each challenge varies with the nature of the goods.
Private goods, such as cash and food, are concrete and immediate. Politicians can easily
demonstrate that they have provided these goods, but they must exert effort to quickly
obtain and deliver them by allying with the forces that control patronage. By contrast,
public goods like environmental protection and reduced corruption are more valuable but
less immediate. Politicians can easily deliver these goods, but they can only claim credit
for their individual role in the policymaking process by forming disciplined parties and
developing voting records. Legislators’ behavior reflects the challenges they face: in the
heavily clientelistic Brazilian state of Piauí, legislators cross party lines to build alliances
with the governor and acquiesce to his agenda in exchange for patronage. In the more
programmatic state of Brasilia, legislators develop voting records and use party
allegiance to signal their legislative accomplishments and ambitions. Although legislators
may pursue varying tactics in other institutional settings, programmatic and clientelistic
electoral markets are likely to cause different kinds of legislative behavior across
institutional contexts.
Clientelistic and programmatic goods appeal differently to voters and require
different behavior from legislators. Clientelistic private goods tend to be lower in value,
but they are appealing because they are immediate and certain: for voters averse to risk
and delay, a guaranteed small cash payment now may be preferable to a possible large
income subsidy in the future. Legislators in electoral markets that value private goods
face an urgent pressure to obtain and distribute goods immediately. By contrast,
legislators in electoral markets that value public goods face less urgent pressure to deliver
because “delayed delivery is offset” (pg. 106) by the greater value of the goods.
However, legislators can easily claim credit for providing small, immediate goods: if a
voter receives food, cash, or medicine, the legislator has fulfilled his promise. Claiming
credit for public goods produced through a complex legislative process is far more
difficult. Because “a single legislator usually won’t be able to balance the budget,
increase educational spending, or lower taxes in a single term” (pg. 107), voters cannot
easily assess whether any progress is being made in important policy areas and whether
their local legislators are responsible. Legislators in public goods markets must spend the
preponderance of their effort claiming credit, while legislators in private goods markets
must spend the preponderance of theirs delivering goods.
The ways in which legislators claim credit and deliver goods depends on the political
context. In Brazilian state legislatures, two characteristics are particularly salient in
shaping legislative behavior: Brazilian states have independently elected governors who
control state finances, and Brazilian parties have few financial resources and little
disciplinary control over their members. Legislators in private goods electoral markets
have few incentives to develop their voting records or maintain disciplined parties.
Instead, they will attempt to obtain state resources by allying themselves with the
governor and acquiescing to his policy agenda. The governor will attract cohesive
support from his party, but he will also attract defectors or force opposition parties to
support his initiatives. By contrast, legislators in public goods electoral markets can claim
credit for policies by developing established voting records and forming cohesive parties.
Membership in an ideologically coherent party “provides a brand name” (pg. 108) that
succinctly and credibly communicates members’ policy goals and accomplishments and
helps like-minded legislators coordinate policy initiatives. Opposition and government
parties both have incentives for cohesion. In Brazil, public goods electoral markets will
lead to more cohesive opposition parties and more developed voting records.
One of the sharpest political contrasts in Brazil is between the states of Piauí and
Brasilia. Although the two states have virtually identical formal institutions, they have
very different electoral markets. Piauí is Brazil’s least developed state, and political
competition is almost exclusively centered on private goods: deputies win votes by
providing goods like medical care, transportation, and sometimes cash. In Brasilia, the
most developed state in the country, constituents are interested in candidates’ policy
platforms and are less influenced by personalistic benefits. Legislators in Brasilia do
more to claim credit and less to obtain patronage resources than their peers in Piauí. First,
they use recorded “roll call” votes to demonstrate their policy positions and legislative
behavior to voters: between 1991 and 1998, there were 7,971 roll call votes in Brasilia
and only 20 in Piauí. In Piauí, most opposition lawmakers indicated a preference for
private “negotiation” over public votes, and some were unaware that they could demand a
roll call vote. Second, legislators in Brasilia rely on parties and less on the governor to
win elections. The recorded voting records from the two provinces reveal very different
patterns of party cohesion. In Brasilia, the opposition and governing parties had
moderately high, statistically indistinguishable levels of cohesion, while in Piauí, the
governing party had a level of cohesion that was nearly twice as high as the opposition’s.
Even when the opposition in Piauí had a majority of legislative seats, party leaders
needed to negotiate with the governor over access to state resources or face defections
within their ranks. Because distribution was more important than credit claiming, the
governor—with his control of patronage resources—replaced parties as the nexus of
political organization.
In other political settings, the pressures of clientelistic and programmatic vote
markets may translate into different legislative outcomes. In Brazil, an electoral market
that favors private goods leads to weak parties, because legislators abandon their party
leadership to win patronage from the governor. In Argentina and Mexico, an electoral
market that favors private goods has strengthened parties. Because the Peronists in
Argentina and the PRI in the Mexico have extensive financial resources, clientelistic
politicians need to ally with party leaders to provide private goods. Formal institutions
are not irrelevant—they just depend on underlying assumptions about voters. Voters who
are exclusively ideological make different demands on legislators than voters who are
only concerned with private goods. Even an assumption that voters don’t matter
influences the impact of formal rules on legislative behavior. But just as formal rules
cannot be viewed in isolation, neither can the contours of the electoral marketplace be
viewed as an isolated phenomenon. Electoral markets have “ripple effects” (pg. 120) that
reach far beyond election day and into the processes and outcomes of legislatures
throughout the world.
2. Anna Grzymala-Busse, “Beyond Clientelism: Incumbent State Capture and State
Formation,” Comparative Political Studies 41, no. 4–5 (April 2008), pp. 638–
Political elites often attempt to capture the state for their own benefit—they extract
resources from the government for their own personal or political gain. According to
Anna Grzymala-Busse, elites must make two key decisions when pursuing state capture:
whether to share these resources with supporters and whether to permit competition
between elites for resources. These two decisions yield four distinctive classes of
extractive regimes that powerfully influence state institutions and policies. Elites decide
whether to pursue clientelism, predation, party-state fusion, or competitive exploitation
based on preexisting political and socioeconomic conditions, including wealth, stability,
and institutional legacy. In turn, the mechanism of state capture exerts a powerful
influence on the shape of the state and affects property rights, accountability, state
employment, development programs, and electoral rules.
Assuming that rulers seek to maximize their own benefits, they face tactical choices
about their relationships with other elites and with the masses. They may develop a
relationship with followers by sharing captured state resources, which diminishes rulers’
own personal gains but decreases threats to their rule. They may also develop a
relationship with other elites by permitting competition for leadership, which increases
the probability that rulers will lose power but decreases the penalties they face following
removal. Democrats voted out of office have a secure and lucrative future and the
prospect of reelection, while dictators overthrown by rivals are often arrested, exiled, or
killed. The combination of decisions that rulers make determines the state capture regime
they pursue: clientelism, exploitation, fusion, or predation. Clientelism is seen in Latin
America, Japan, and Italy, where politicians both permit competition and distribute to
followers, trading targetable goods for electoral support. Predation, by contrast, was seen
in the Phillipines under Ferdinand Marcos, Nigeria under General Sani Abacha, and
Indonesia under Mohamed Suharto and involves neither competition nor distribution.
Instead it allows authoritarian elites to steal state resources for themselves. Party-state
fusion, such as in Singapore and Eastern Europe under communist rule, involves the use
of monopolistic political parties that distribute goods to supporters while suppressing
potential competitors. Finally, institutional exploitation, frequently seen in post-
communist Europe, involves competition without distribution. The classes of state
capture are ideal types, and in reality they often overlap. For example, an exploitative
regime might use clientelism to buy off key constituencies, or a party-state might allow
clientelistic elections at a local level.
Rulers choosing between tactics for state capture are guided by a complex set of
structural constraints including “existing organizational endowments, the costs of buying
support, and the trade-off between costs and probability of exit from office” (pg. 645). As
such, rulers’ choices on rent-sharing are influenced by two factors. First, poverty and
inequality make rent-sharing appealing because poor voters will trade their support for
smaller material benefits and are less mobile and therefore easier to monitor, and because
the demand for public goods and property rights is weaker without a strong capitalist
class. Second, when politics are highly unstable and parties lack strong ties to
constituents, the costs of developing political institutions to distribute rents and monitor
loyalty are prohibitive. Similar factors affect rulers’ choice to allow competition, as the
organization of society, the viability of repression, and the international community
influence whether the cost and probability of losing power are high enough to rationalize
institutionalized competition and protection for losers. Competition and clientelism also
interact: rent-sharing can serve as a buffer against negative public sentiment and inhibit
competition, because it raises the costs of opposition and facilitates the mobilization of
supporters, while competition can inhibit rent-seeking since some voters are likely to
oppose the practice. Neither wealth nor political history can explain regime type in a
simplistic manner: clientelism is found in both low income and high income countries
across colonial, democratic, and authoritarian backgrounds. The constraints that shape
state capture are subtle and multifaceted.
Contrary to some scholars, Grzymala-Busse does not believe that rent-seeking leads
to universally weaker institutions. Although it may weaken some institutions, it can also
strengthen others. The strategic decisions elites make, based on their political and
socioeconomic environments, bear directly on the state institutions they build: specific
needs, such as distribution and contestation, require specific structures. The variation in
structures is particularly evident in four areas of the state: oversight and regulatory
institutions, state employment, development programs, and electoral rules. By protecting
property, enforcing contracts, and ensuring transparency, state institutions of law and
oversight make it more difficult for rulers to extract rents. However, these institutions are
also necessary to help rulers solidify popular support (by distributing rents) and to
compete with rival elites. Exploitative regimes have the most universal and well-
developed institutions of law and oversight. When politicians compete on policy
programs rather than patronage, strong formal institutions are necessary to ensure
economic growth, appeal to voters’ senses of fairness, and constrain successors’ abilities
to undermine or punish previous leaders. Exploitative elites are unlikely to capture the
state through disruptive tactics like the seizure of property and are constrained by
competition in the amount they can extract from the state. Fusion and clientelist regimes,
however, also face incentives to build monitoring, tax collection, and oversight
capabilities in order to effectively distribute patronage and monitor loyalty. Unlike
exploitative regimes, however, these formal institutions are placed under partisan control
and only employed when they benefit the ruling regime. Elites in these distributive
regimes are eager to take personal credit for rent distribution and therefore eschew
“quasistate” arrangements, such as independent authorities and contractors, that are
popular in exploitative regimes. Finally, without either competitive or distributive
pressure, the rulers of predatory regimes have no incentive to check their rent-seeking
with any formal institutions and simply let state capacity wither away.
Elites can also extract rents and maintain support through public hiring and
development programs. Both allow rulers to target key constituencies or to enrich
themselves. Distributive regimes—fusion and clientelism—reward supporters with jobs
and targeted development programs such as loans and infrastructure. They have a large
number of state employees, particularly concentrated in sectors like healthcare and
education that provide benefits to supporters, and a large number of contingent and
targeted development goods. Although programs are conditioned on political support and
create dependence on the ruling elites, they nonetheless have some benevolent function,
as they provide benefits to constituents and expand state capacity (partially in order to
monitor the loyalty and subservience of beneficiaries). In contrast, predatory regimes
siphon off public payrolls and programs to enrich the rulers using outright fraud and
expropriation without regard for citizens. These regimes have the highest wage bills but
the lowest levels of actual public employment, as salaries go to a small number of
powerful officials and are siphoned off by corruption. Self-interested exploitative rulers
use public employment, not to enrich themselves materially, but to enrich the resources
under their political control. Instead of expanding patronage jobs, they increase their
political power by expanding central state agencies and hiring from their elite supporters.
Electoral rules are only a relevant consideration in competitive regimes, but
differences emerge between the voting methods used in clientelistic and exploitative
systems. Clientelism requires that individual candidates be able to take credit for their
accomplishments. States with a long tradition of distributive politics have therefore
frequently adopted personalized voting methods such as the single nontransferable vote
and open-list proportional representation. However, states without a clientelistic tradition
also use these methods, so it is more likely that clientelism influences the choice of
voting system than vice versa. Exploitative regimes eschew individual credit and blame
in favor of strong parties by using systems such as closed-list or semi-open proportional
representation. In the Central and Eastern European countries that typify exploitation—
unlike in countries that typify clientelism—electoral rules preceded the creation of an
extractive regime type. The state crisis engendered by the fall of the Soviet Union
enabled unusually rapid oscillation between state capture strategies, in part via rapid
changes in institutions. Political systems rarely offer the opportunity for such rapid
change in regime type: expectations and institutions typically alter slowly through
gradually increasing competition, demographic changes, and economic development. The
choices elites make about distribution and competition, and therefore the choices they
make about state capture and state building, are conditioned on deeply-rooted historical
events and institutions.
3. Paul D. Hutchcroft, “The Politics of Privilege: Assessing the Impact of Rents,
Corruption, and Clientelism on Third World Development,” Political Studies
45, no. 3 (1997), pp. 649–658.
All political systems have some degree of particularistic privilege that benefits a
small segment of the population. Privilege is particularly widespread in the developing
world, where elites frequently obtain state resources for personal or political benefit.
Scholars have variously described these “politics of privilege” using three different
approaches: rent-seeking, corruption, and clientelism. While each framework has
contributed a unique perspective on politics, none has comprehensively assessed how
particularistic privilege impacts development in the societies where it is most widespread.
Drawing on all three strands of literature, Paul D. Hutchcroft argues that an “eclectic
approach” (pg. 639) is necessary to develop a comprehensive understanding of the
relationship between particularistic politics and development. He reviews the strengths
and weaknesses of each strand and poses seven questions that scholars interested in the
interrelated phenomena must answer to analyze when privilege is harmful and when it is
Hutchcroft’s eclectic approach draws useful insight from both rent theory and
clientelism but seems most attached to the framework of corruption. This perspective
avoids the ideological bias of rent theory, which holds that governments distort markets
and are inherently bad, and can “move into other terrain” (pg. 643) to examine the
distinction between public and private spheres. It therefore plays closer attention to
institutional design (whether a political system distinguishes between public and private
spheres), to nonmarket forms of privilege based on personal ties, and to the broader
political context (whether corruption promotes or inhibits political change). In public
discourse, corruption is a far more meaningful concept than rent-seeking and can connect
with practical political movements against corruption. Rent theory is useful because it
offers insights into the market processes that often drive privilege, but it fails to
distinguish between who captures rents, how rents are distributed, and privileges that
create generalizable policy benefits (lobbying) or excludable benefits (bribes). Although
purely market-driven privilege is distinct from clientelism, Hutchcroft argues that most
privilege is based at least in part on personal connection and that the paradigm of
clientelism can help explain the nonmarket aspects of corruption and rents. Its major
limitation in describing nonmarket forces is that it considers affective ties but not
coercive ones.
Unifying these three approaches can help clarify the effects of privilege on economic
development. To this extent, Hutchcroft proposes seven area of inquiry “that are useful in
beginning to assess the differential impact of rents, corruption, and clientelism” (pg. 646)
and understanding when privilege is pernicious and when it is benign or even beneficial.
He first asks under what circumstances is corruption “relatively more variable or
calculable” (pg. 646). In other words: when do bribes function as unofficial taxes that can
be easily figured into routine business and when do they introduce a high degree of risk
and require large amounts of time to negotiate. Hutchcroft suggests that they are likely to
be more calculable when the formal power of institutions is relatively strong and when
informal, clientelistic lines of authority closely follow formal lines of authority. Under
these circumstances, corruption’s barriers to development are relatively minimal.
Next, Hutchcroft argues that scholars must understand where rents go: how they are
allocated and spent. The distribution of rents can occur via “rent-seeking” in which
groups expend resources to compete for rents, and “rent deployment” in which rents are
allocated by authorities with little competition from below. This distinction determines
how many resources are consumed unproductively fighting for control of rents. Rent
deployment, which is more likely to occur in a centralized economy, can be more
efficient then rent-seeking, because it avoids wasting resources in directly unproductive
activities like lobbying and bribes. Regardless of whom rents are allocated to, scholars
must also ask how they are subsequently invested. States that deploy rents must ensure
that their allocations are invested productively to serve development goals, rather than for
unproductive personal or political activities. If rents are sought after rather than deployed,
determining their utility for promoting growth and capital accumulation is even more
difficult: scholars cannot judge distribution against a clear, systematic goal and instead
must speculate about individual motivations. If rents are effectively deployed towards
promoting economic growth, as in South Korea, privilege may be beneficial. However, if
rents are captured for other goals, they may impede good governance.
Rents are particularly pernicious if they impede the development of other effective
institutions required for development. Hutchcroft’s next three questions probe the
relationship between rents and markets, parties, and state bureaucracies. He first evokes
Doner and Ramsay’s distinction between “competitive clientelism,” which fosters
markets and competition, and “monopoly clientelism,” which erects barriers to
competition and inhibits markets, to address whether corruption impedes markets and
competition. In some cases, privilege may allow businesses to circumvent poorly
developed state policies, avoiding price ceilings and excessive regulations. However,
Hutchcroft is skeptical of claims that corruption can increase state capacity to pursue
development goals. Even “speed payments,” which expedite but do not distort
government decisions, create a structural incentive for bureaucratic sluggishness so that
bureaucrats receive bribes for fast work. If agencies and parties—formal lines of
authority—closely coincide with informal lines of authority, then the rents collected by
leaders might strengthen overall formal institutions. Political parties in the developed
world began as means for extracting particularistic benefits, and, under certain
circumstances, parties that receive rents can develop into robust institutions. Further
research is needed to understand how many resources corruption diverts away from state
spending on development projects such as policing and infrastructure and how this
diversion varies between the upper and lower levels of government, between different
agencies, and between democratic and authoritarian political systems.
Finally, Hutchcroft asks what other factors might mitigate the impact of privilege on
politics, and what further research can help answer the set of questions he lays out.
Although the “basic notion of countervailing factors is valid” (pg. 657), differences in
how countries have capitalized on (or failed to capitalize on) countervailing factors such
as natural resources, foreign aid, investor confidence, and internal reformers rests in large
part on the nature of privilege in developing societies. Likewise, some societies may have
internal limits on the scope of corruption, but these limits are also likely to depend on the
nature of privilege. In order to give more definite answers to the questions Hutchcroft
poses, further research into the politics of privilege is needed. This research should
explore the nature of privilege in three ways. It should develop metrics for measuring
both how calculable corruption is and how much it siphons off from development
spending, it should explore the connections between various forms of corruption within a
society, and it should seek to understand when societies are likely to develop an internal
sense of limits to corruption.

4. Phillip Keefer and Razvan Vlaicu, “Democracy, Credibility, and Clientelism,”

Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 24, no. 2 (October 2008), pp. 371–
Quality of governance varies sharply across democratic countries. While some
democratic governments allocate resources efficiently by investing in public goods,
others impede development by ignoring it and serve instead as vehicles to provide rent-
seeking politicians and their supporters with private goods. Phillip Keefer and Razvan
Vlaicu argue that the differences in the quality of democratic governance are caused by
politicians’ differing abilities to make credible policy commitments. Where political
institutions are weak, politicians are unable to make credible commitments directly to
voters. Instead they rely on clientelism by channeling private goods through political
elites and depending on these elites’ inherent credibility with their clients to communicate
policy platforms. Democracies that extend suffrage without an infrastructure of parties
and free media risk falling into a vicious cycle of clientelism and political and economic
Formal models of governance routinely use expenditures on public goods to measure
the quality of governance: well-governed countries spend relatively heavily on public
goods and less so on other items. Keefer and Vlaicu, however, assert that much of the
existing literature on government spending decision-making is deficient, as it makes
broad assumptions about the credibility of politicians. The existing models either assume
that politicians’ commitments are always credible to all voters or that they are never
credible to any voters. Keefer and Vlaicu argue that modeling a variable and endogenous
relationship between politician and voter provides several benefits. First, it sheds light on
the role of patronage in determining policy. Second, it can explain the conditions under
which strong institutions and credible commitments can emerge and overcome
clientelism. Finally, it explains how clientelism functions without deep social cleavages
that encourage relationships between politicians and specific groups of supporters.
Politicians can choose between two strategies for making policy commitments that
attract support from voters. They may either develop their credibility directly with voters
or develop their relationship with patrons who can then vouch for politicians to their
clients (organizing voters indirectly). Establishing direct credibility entails four costly
preconditions for candidates, who must communicate a policy platform to voters, hold
themselves accountable to their policy platforms by communicating their actions, solve
the collective action dilemma caused by voting by reducing the cost individuals incur,
and demonstrate that they can keep track of and fulfill their own targeted commitments to
voters. These preconditions require developing institutions such as parties and the media.
By contrast, relying on patrons requires little investment in institutions. Patrons are by
definition trusted by their clients, so politicians who make credible commitments to
patrons win the support of their clients. Because clientelistic politicians make themselves
directly credible to a small fraction of the population, they expend fewer resources
demonstrating their trustworthiness.
To examine the impact of these choices, the authors consider the equilibrium
outcomes of formal voting models. They compare the levels of public goods, rents,
transfers, and tax outputs that emerge when politicians can only build direct credibility
and when they can choose to build either direct credibility (through institutions) or
indirect credibility (through patrons).
The authors draw three broad conclusions on the effects of clientelism. Overall
welfare in a clientelistic political system is likely to be less widespread than it would be
in a scenario with fully credible politicians. Furthermore, “the most notable development
pathologies—high rents and excessive emphasis on benefits for narrow groups of voters
—emerge even in the absence of patrons” (pg. 23) when politicians need to build their
credibility. Lack of credibility, not clientelism, is the root of poor governance. However,
because clientelism reduces the provision of public goods, it can create a vicious cycle
where politicians are unwilling to devote resources to institution-building.
Keefer and Vlaicu pursue three strategies for verifying these conclusions empirically.
First, quantitative evidence shows that younger democracies (which are likely to be less
credible) exhibit higher levels of corruption and narrowly targeted, clientelistic public
spending and confirms that young democracies emphasize narrow transfers over broad
investment in public goods. Second, a qualitative comparison of Victorian England and
the Dominican Republic shows that states that possess credible political leaders prior to
the extension of suffrage demonstrate better governance following democratization. On
the eve of political reform in 19th century England, politicians were already engaged in
vigorous policy-oriented debates, while civil service laws and restrictions on “private
legislation” inhibited patronage. By contrast, the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the
Dominican Republic systematically prohibited individuals from articulating independent
opinions on policy and utilized targeted transfers to maintain support. The failure of
strong parties and civil society to emerge following Trujillo’s death in 1961 suggests that
liberal democracy is more likely to succeed when “endowed with political competitors
with well-known policy stances who are immediately able to make credible promises
when elections are introduced” (pg. 3). Third, the rise of clientelistic politics among
immigrants—who are unlikely to be concerned with ideological debates between parties
or to trust promises made by either party—suggest that politicians do use clientelistic
strategies when building direct trust is difficult.
The lesson Keefer and Vlaicu draw from the evidence is that the level of credibility in
a political system is an important factor in governance regardless of the particular
institutional designs used in government: proportional versus majoritarian representation,
presidentialism versus parliamentarism, and limited versus unlimited government.
However, further research is needed to understand how these institutional constraints
interact with credibility and “how the pursuit of credibility by politicians affects the
relationship between institutions and policy outcomes such as spending and the security
of property rights” (pg. 36).

5. Philip Keefer, “Clientelism, Credibility, and the Policy Choices of Young

Democracies,” American Journal of Political Science 51, no. 4 (October 2007),
pp. 804–821.
Contrary to the predictions of democratic theory, some democracies fail to effectively
provide public goods to their citizens. They are plagued by corruption, overprovide
private and club goods such as public works projects and state jobs, and underprovide
public goods such as education, information, and property rights. They are clientelistic
instead of programmatic. Philip Keefer argues that the differences between effective,
programmatic democracies and ineffective, clientelistic democracies are closely related to
age: young democracies are less likely to be effective because political competitors face
difficulties in making credible policy commitments. Without established policy
reputations, politicians in young democracies often pursue clientelistic strategies for
winning elections that consume less of politicians’ resources but distort policymaking.
Controlling for other possible factors that influence the quality of democracy, the age of a
democracy has a significant impact on rent-seeking and expenditures, and the quality of
democracy appears to improve as democracies age. This is most likely the result of
improving credibility, because other links between age and clientelism are theoretically
deficient and do not predict the observed relationship. However, it is unclear what factors
distinguish democracies that improve as they age from those that collapse.
Countries with less democratic experience should, on average, have higher levels of
clientelism, because politicians in these countries often cannot make credible policy
commitments. Keefer argues that initially non-credible politicians need to build their
credibility in order to make policy commitments that attract voters. Politicians can invest
resources in building direct credibility with voters by buying votes, advertising,
canvassing, and supporting strong parties and the media. Alternatively, they can build
indirect credibility with voters by purchasing the support of intermediary patrons who are
credible with voters. Patrons are indifferent about public goods and are only interested in
targeted goods that they can distribute to their clients and skim from for personal gain.
When politicians choose to build credibility through patrons, they provide more private
than public goods in order to attract the support of patrons. Politicians in young regimes
are more likely to have a credibility deficit and therefore use patrons: policy reputations
take time to build (although the passage of time does not necessarily build policy
reputations), and regimes without credibility tend to fall.
Because there is no direct way to measure credibility, Keefer considers whether age
impacts clientelistic policies, whether that impact is theoretically compatible with
increasing credibility, and whether alternative theories could also explain the link
between age, clientelism, and performance. Keefer uses seven measures to operationalize
three aspects of governance that contrast programmatic and clientelistic regimes: rent-
seeking (corruption scores from the International Country Risk Guide), nontargeted
goods provision (rule of law and bureaucratic quality scores from the International
Country Risk Guide, secondary school enrollment, and the market share of privately-
owned newspapers), and targeted goods provision (government wages and public
investment as percentages of GDP). The model measures the age of a country’s
democracy, its dependent variable, by counting the time period of competitive executive
and legislative elections. Controlling for population area, wealth, population age, and
urbanization, the effects of the age of a democracy are both statistically significant and
large in magnitude, particularly for levels of corruption, quality of rule of law, and levels
of school enrollment.
Other variables correlate with age but fail to explain the link between age and
clientelism. Only increasing credibility is a compelling explanation. Empirically, age is
consistently significant even when these other variables are introduced, whereas the new
variables are only intermittently significant. Theoretically, increased credibility should
curb rent-seeking and private good provision and increase public provision, unlike other
possible explanations for the poor performance of young democracies. The policies of
old, programmatic democracies reflect these patterns. Civil war and poor access to
information in young democracies should reduce politicians’ accountability for providing
both private and public goods and therefore decrease private good provision in favor of
rent-seeking. Fractionalization should either diminish the provision of private goods
(because voters will support coethnic candidates regardless of their policy performance)
or should decrease rent-seeking (because politicians exhaust state resources targeting
swing voters) instead of increasing both private goods provision and rent-seeking. Young
democracies’ majoritarianism should likewise curtail rent-seeking as politicians target
swing voters, and their presidentialism should diminish spending on private goods
because politicians cannot make credible agreements with each other. It is unlikely that
lurking variables or reverse causality drive the relationship between age of democracy
and quality of governance: latitude and British colonial heritage, which serve as
imperfect proxies for the age of democracy but are not plausibly related to contemporary
policy choices, are significant in predicting clientelistic policies. Conversely, plausible
lurking variables—religion, government expenditures, and length of leaders’ tenure in
office—have little impact on the model.
Although there is no way to directly measure whether credibility drives the
relationship between a democracy’s age and performance, several factors suggest that
credibility is a likely cause. No other potential link is theoretically accurate and
empirically significant in explaining the relationship between democratic age and
clientelistic policies, while reverse causality and lurking variables are unlikely. However,
it is less clear why political competitors in some countries develop credibility, while
political competitors in other countries do not develop credibility and sometimes relapse
into authoritarianism. Panel data finds that corruption, rule of law, bureaucratic quality,
and government wages all fall as countries gain democratic experience, and public
investment falls after a brief initial rise. Younger democracies are not doomed to be
eternally non-credible and clientelistic, as increasing credibility is a vital part of building
political institutions and a potentially important component of economic growth.
However, not all democratic experience leads to credibility. In some cases, democracies’
inability to establish credibility may lead to political stagnation or authoritarian relapse.
Understanding the link between clientelism, credibility, and governance does not explain
when political competitors choose to build their credibility, and when they choose to let it
languish. Further research should explore this direction.

6. Mushtaq H. Khan, “Markets, States, and Democracy: Patron-Client Networks

and the Case for Democracy in Developing Countries,” Democratization 12, no.
5 (December 2005), pp. 704–724.
The relationship between democratization and economic growth is an important and
contested subject in political science. While it is clear that wealthy countries are more
likely to be democratic than poor countries, it is not as obvious whether democracy
promotes development and or vice versa. Several poor democracies and rich dictatorships
exist. Although theorists have developed several reasons why democracy should promote
economic development, Mushtaq Khan argues that these theories ignore the clientelistic
operation of democracy in poor countries. The clientelistic political systems of these
countries are rational: actors base their behavior on rational calculations of self-interest
rather than on traditional deference to authority. Clientelism endures because the
economic structure of developing nations incentivizes the use of informal institutions
over formal ones. Democratization is not likely to change this economic structure and is
therefore unlikely to undermine clientelism and promote growth.
Regardless of whether they are democratic or authoritarian, developing countries tend
to be characterized by the deficiency of formal institutions. Political contestation is
organized around factions dominated by a personalistic leader that attract support by
offering material benefits to followers. Economic activity includes a large informal sector
not regulated by the official state, “non-market accumulation processes” (pg. 712), and
extensive rent-seeking by politicians. In this context, “democracy or authoritarianism
appears at best to modify the nature” (pg. 712) of informal institutions and the outcomes
they yield without altering the underlying logic of politics. In some respects, the
institutional gap between wealthy and poor democracies is greater than the gap between
poor authoritarian and democratic countries: poor democracies have weaker institutions,
are less likely to consolidate, and are therefore more like to relapse into authoritarianism
than their wealthier cousins.
Without strong formal institutions, the traditional arguments that democracy
engenders economic development are flawed. Khan sees four main arguments linking
democracy with development: information, efficiency, stability, and rationality. First,
democracy could be beneficial to development because “the competition for office
reveals information for current and future policy-makers” (pg. 706) that allows
government either to identify public desires, make better policy choices, or avoid
catastrophic disasters. Second, as Douglass North argues, democracy can reduce the
transactional costs of building coalitions, so that winning coalitions support policies when
the benefits to winners exceed the costs to losers—in other words, when policies are
economically sound. Third, democracies can provide stable rules of succession and
disperse the benefits of rents and taxes among a larger number of individuals, as Mancur
Olson argues. Finally, in the neo-Weberian school of thought, democracy is the rational
organization of the state, just as capitalism is the rational organization of the economy. If
the state behaves irrationally in its interactions with markets, these markets cannot be
truly rational.
In practice, none of these arguments function in developing countries where
governments are characterized by extensive clientelism. Democracy does not necessarily
improve the quality of information both because well-organized patron-client networks
with parochial interests have more resources to collect and critically evaluate public
policy, and because these groups are able to dominate perceptions of the public will and
public interest. Nor does democracy necessarily promote utilitarian policy outcomes:
since the transaction costs of building coalitions never actually approach zero, entrenched
coalitions dominate politics, employ obfuscation and force instead of negotiation, and
obtain benefits at the expense of less-organized groups. The stability of democracies
carries a dark side with it, as entrenched political factions are able to seek rents and—as
Olson acknowledged—require periodic destruction to ensure a smoothly functioning
political system.
Democracy, at least by itself, is unlikely to undermine clientelism. Khan is highly
critical of the neo-Weberian belief that democratic rule is necessarily rational.
Clientelistic politicians are not motivated by tradition and deference to authority as in the
traditional patrimonial state, but by structural economic factors that make clientelism
rational for political actors in the developing world. In economically advanced countries,
the ubiquity of capitalism creates shared interests among socioeconomic sectors and
society as a whole, while economically developing countries have less of a universal
interest in capitalism and rational society. Khan highlights four advantages developed
states possess for promoting rational rule. First, most people are directly or indirectly
dependent upon the “capitalist sector” (pg. 715) for their well-being. Second, the
extensive financial and regulatory resources of the state allow factions to achieve
redistributive goals through “marginal changes” (pg. 716) in policy and create unified
interests and interest groups among members of industrial and social sectors fighting to
make regulatory and financial policies. Third, most economic activities produce large
economic surpluses. This gives individuals and businesses the incentives and financial
resources necessary to resist states’ attempts to usurp productive property (capital) and
restrict productive activity (labor). Finally, the states possess stronger enforcement
capacities for the rare occasions when factional self-interest does threaten overall well-
being. By contrast, the more limited scope of capitalism in the developing world makes
anticapitalist behavior appealing to significant social sectors, while the limited regulatory
and fiscal powers of the state encourages political actors to find other sources of power
and discourages the formation of unified interest groups representing social sectors.
Under these circumstance, political actors aim to “mobilize organizational power at the
lowest cost to the faction leader, to achieve a redistribution of assets and incomes using a
combination of legal, quasi-legal, or even illegal methods” (pg. 719). Given widespread
poverty, it is most efficient to build alliances with poor voters who will trade their
support for smaller particularistic benefits.
Although Khan rejects the notion that authoritarianism is necessary for development,
he also rejects the notion that democracy is necessary for development. The features that
link political regime with economic performance must be examined in finer detail: some
clientelistic structures are capable of sustaining economic growth, as in India, and
perhaps leading to the eventual rationalization of both politics and economics. In other
cases, however, different clientelistic arrangements do appear to have led to stagnation
and to have undermined the welfare of citizens. In short, clientelism is an important
element of a country’s political system, but an element that is independent of democracy
and tied more closely to economic development. Although democracy may be desirable
for many reasons, its success in promoting economic growth is contingent on the prior
existence of a developed capitalist sector.

7. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson, “Citizen-Politician Linkages: An

Introduction,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of Democratic
Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I.
Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pg. 1–49.
Political science often assumes that voters hold politicians accountable for general
social welfare via public goods. However, in most of the developing world—and some of
the developed world—this is not the exclusive or even primary relationship between
voters and politicians. Instead, voters’ relationship with politicians takes the form of “a
transaction, the direct exchange of a citizen’s vote in return for direct payments or
continuing access to employment, goods, and services” (pg. 2) in which public policy
plays a marginal role. In other words, voters’ relationship with politicians takes the form
of clientelism. The persistence of this relationship in democracies throughout the world is
the subject of Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson’s book, Patrons, Clients, and
Policies. What distinguishes programmatic and clientelistic accountability? What causes
clientelism to take hold in some places but not in others? In their introduction, Kitschelt
and Wilkinson argue that clientelism, as a mode of exchange between voters and
politicians, is distinguished by the private and contingent nature of benefits, the
predictable compliance of citizens as a direct result of the benefits, and the monitoring of
voting behavior when compliance is not voluntary and spontaneous. The presence of
these elements in political linkages between voters and politicians is determined by the
interactions between the levels of economic development, interparty competition,
politicized economic governance, and ethnic heterogeneity.
The authors define clientelistic exchange as a relationship between voters and
politicians characterized by three factors: contingent direct exchange, voter predictability
and elasticity, and monitoring. The goods that politicians deliver to voters must be
directly contingent upon voters’ support for the winning politicians. As such, clientelistic
politicians focus on delivering private goods (such as jobs) and club goods (such as local
infrastructure) that can be provided selectively to some citizens, rather than public goods
(such as economic growth) that cannot. Furthermore, voting behavior must be predictable
and elastic in order for the use of excludable goods to be effective in obtaining office:
voters should consistently cast votes for the party providing them with benefits, and these
benefits should “tip the balance” (pg. 13) towards voters’ support for a party. Lastly,
unless a party is confident that voters will follow through with their promised political
support, it must have a means of monitoring voters, which can be accomplished by
violating the secrecy of the ballot or by asking voters to individually pledge support for a
candidate. However, it is usually more efficient to monitor groups of voters by making
deals with the leaders of cohesive groups, monitoring public opinion polls and election
results, and accepting a limited degree of moral hazard. Carrying out this contractual
relationship between voters and politicians entails the costly development of party
institutions, such as local party offices and supportive grassroots networks, to distribute
state resources to voters, monitor voting behavior, and attract private resources from
economically wealthy but vote-poor backers. This strategy will only be more appealing
than the alternatives—programmatic, personalistic, or performance appeals—under
certain economic and social circumstances. Kitschelt and Wilkinson embrace a broadly
“developmentalist” perspective that economic development, mediated through social and
political institutions, shape the linkages between voters and politicians. Clientelism can
be explained through four dimensions of historical development: wealth, party
competition, ethnic cleavage, and political economy.
Economic development, interacting with other factors, impacts both the demand for
and the supply of clientelistic linkages. On the demand side, economic development
determines the utility of clientelism for voters. At a very low level of economic
development, people have little use for state resources and little integration into social
networks that extend to the central state. Development first increases the demand for
clientelism by solidifying citizens’ integration into social groups that demand and use
state resources, then decreases demand as narrow clientelistic linkages are superseded by
broad, programmatically-oriented class and professional linkages. Furthermore, as
citizens’ wealth increases, they accept present losses for future benefits, understand the
benefits that policy changes will bring in the long run, and “become entirely indifferent to
clientelistic-targeted goods and therefore incur zero opportunity cost when their favorite
programmatic party loses to a clientelistic contender” (pg. 25). However, development
can also deepen inequality, exacerbate cleavages in heterogeneous societies, and
therefore increase the demand for ethnically targeted club goods.
Poverty also makes vote buying more appealing. Low voter mobility makes
delivering goods and monitoring support easy. As national wealth increases, parties gain
access to more financial resources, but the linear increase in resources is generally
outstripped by the exponentially increasing cost of vote buying: additional handouts
become marginally less meaningful and developed economies grow “increasingly
vulnerable to the market distortions” (pg. 26–27) of clientelistic distribution. Social
heterogeneity may make clientelism either more or less appealing in a developed society.
If some constituencies reject clientelistic politics, politicians may follow suit to maintain
party cohesion, but the durability of ethnocultural networks makes ethnic clientelistic
blocs an appealing source of votes for politicians. Finally, media in a developed society
will often “feed on reporting clientelistic practices” (pg. 27) and inhibit clientelism if
significant segments of society frowns on it.
While economic development usually impedes clientelism, patterns of interparty
competition may inhibit or fuel it, depending in part on the level of economic
development. When competition is intense, parties go to greater lengths to develop
linkages with voters, but these linkages may be either clientelistic or programmatic.
Under conditions of high economic development, programmatic appeals are usually more
appealing because the demand for clientelism is low and some voters may be actively
opposed to clientelistic practices. Under conditions of low economic development,
however, the low marginal cost of buying off additional voters promotes an expansion of
clientelism. When ethnic networks are dense and competition is high, politicians attempt
to utilize ethnicity to secure marginal but decisive votes regardless of the level of
development, and universalistic programmatic appeals quickly become losing
propositions because they are ineffective with a small but critical portion of the
electorate. Without competition, clientelism can often endure even in developed societies
until some external shock transforms the party system.
In Japan and elsewhere, the shocks to clientelism have been economic changes that
undermine the politicization of the economy. Although a politicized economy may be
partially a result of clientelism, it is exogenous in important respects that justify its
inclusion as a causal factor. A politicized economic regime that precedes democratization
can still have an impact on clientelism in a democratic system. Within developed
capitalist systems, “coordinated market capitalism” that depends on sector-wide
coordination, incremental innovation, and large organizations is conducive to clientelism
because the state can efficiently play a large role in organizing economic activity; the
economic decline of these industries in favor of more decentralized knowledge- and
personnel-oriented sectors has impeded clientelism and contributed to shocks. Politicized
economies and clientelism are likely to emerge when rulers are existentially threatened or
perfectly secure, and therefore face no incentive to protect property rights for their long-
term economic gain. Under intense interparty competition, ethnic division of labor is
likely to cause an ethnicized—and therefore politicized—economic regime. Politicized
economic governance, in turn, threatens to impede growth and interparty competition,
therefore exerting an additional indirect influence on clientelism. High competition
coupled with high development is likely to cause pressure for professionalization, but
high competition and low development are likely to encourage economic politicization
and clientelism as a means of securing votes.
The legacy of economic institutions (governance regimes and development levels)
and social institutions (ethnocultural cleavages) plays a large role in determining the
relationship between citizens and politicians and far outshadows the role of formal
political institutions. Electoral rules and executive-legislative relations may impact the
methods that parties and politicians choose to pursue linkage, but “politicians find a way
to ‘work around’ electoral institutions” (pg. 43) and other formal rules to develop
clientelistic linkages if doing so is beneficial. Institutional rules cannot explain the
presence of clientelism across highly centralized, highly personalistic, and moderate
systems alike, or the evolution of linkages over time. In short, the incentives that
structure political decisions—economic development, interparty competition, political
economy, and ethnic heterogeneity—are powerful enough to supersede formal rules in
determining the relationships between citizens and politicians.

8. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson, “A Research Agenda for the Study of
Citizen-Politician Linkages and Democratic Accountability” in Patrons, Clients, and
Policies: Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert
Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007),
pp. 322–343.

The greatest challenge in studying clientelism is developing good ways to measure

the phenomenon. Most scholars, including the contributors to Kitschelt and Wilkinson’s
edited volume, have relied on a combination of qualitative studies and idiosyncratic
quantitative proxies that examine clientelism in a single country. While both methods
have provided valuable insights, they do not allow for systematic comparative studies
that could explore the consequences of clientelism in greater depth. Well-designed expert
surveys could overcome the problems of conceptually delineating clientelism and
objectively classifying observed practices to develop quantitative cross-national data,
which would enable scholars to definitively test the relationship between clientelism and
political outcomes like growth, equality, and stability. Although scholars often assume
that clientelism harms all three outcomes, these assumptions are not entirely compelling.
Clientelistic and programmatic democracies are both susceptible to rent-seeking special
interests and can produce widely varying levels of redistribution. Although clientelism
can impede economic growth and political stability, it only seems likely to do so given
certain economic structures, levels of development, and sets of political actors.
Examining the consequences of clientelism requires developing a comprehensive and
quantitative method of measuring it. Although researchers have succeeded in quantifying
programmatic linkages, there is not a one-to-one tradeoff between programmatic and
clientelistic linkages. Measuring clientelism presents three unique problems. First,
scholars must conceptually identify clientelism precisely enough to distinguish between
the clientelistic and programmatic distribution of club goods such as local infrastructure
projects. Second, scholars must standardize the subjective interpretation and
classification of behavior: clientelistic exchanges are often embedded in long-term
relationships and are not clear-cut transactions, which makes them difficult for outsiders
to detect. Third, scholars must see through strategic misrepresentation: patrons and
clients often misrepresent their behavior to avoid violating norms and laws.
Kitschelt and Wilkinson suggest surveying panels of ten to twenty academic experts
on selected countries to assess the linkage strategies of major parties by giving numeric
scores for four modules of questions that measure the prevalence of exchanges involving
private and club goods, the presence of vote monitoring, parties’ organizational
capabilities for monitoring voters and coordinating policy platforms, and the nature and
extent of parties’ programmatic and charismatic appeals. Numeric scores on each
question would be tied to concrete examples and practices that standardize the rating
scale across countries and avoid the bias of different political cultures. It is impossible to
achieve perfect objectivity—“the Danes may interpret a practice as scandalously
clientelistic that would hardly register” (pg. 328) in Italy—but panels of well-studied
experts could produce systematic, quantitative, and relatively objective evaluations of
Quantifying clientelistic linkages would open up an important new research frontier
on the consequences of clientelism for growth, equity, and democratic stability. Most
contemporary scholars believe that clientelism is harmful to all three outcomes, but their
beliefs have little empirical support. Kitschelt and Wilkinson agree that “on average, the
prevalence of clientelism may foster more satisfaction of rent-seeking interests, worse
governance, and weaker economic performance” (pg. 334), but they also believe that the
relationship is highly variable and conditional. For example, clientelism seems sufficient
but not necessary to empower rent-seeking special interests. All democracies, whether
programmatic or clientelistic, are vulnerable to special interests. Programmatic
competition may channel excessive resources to inefficient economic sectors and
government bureaucracies. However, democracies also check the worst predatory
excesses by ejecting politicians from office, so the variation in rent-seeking across
democracies is relatively small. Likewise, there is no clear impressionistic evidence that
links clientelism with greater income inequality or the absence of redistributive,
programmatic social policy. In competitive clientelistic regimes, patronage may provide
important protection for poor voters, mitigate the pain of economic liberalization, and
substitute or complement formal social welfare programs.
Clientelism can cause poor economic growth, but it does not necessarily do so. The
link between clientelism and economic growth seems to depend on a country’s
development level and leading industries, although better empirical data is needed to
conclusively examine this relationship. Countries that lag behind the global innovation
frontier can sometimes grow by providing clientelistic benefits, like subsidies and loans,
to key industries in order to develop globally competitive economic sectors. These
developing countries can reap large economic gains from even modest spending on
public goods. Closer to the global innovation frontier, clientelism is potentially dangerous
because the “politicization of market relations” (pg. 336) can impede economic efficiency
and divert spending from the more expensive public goods necessary for growth at high
development levels. However, it is not necessarily harmful if efficient economic sectors
perform well enough to subsidize the modest inefficiencies of clientelistic sectors (for
example, through higher input costs). National economic performance is only endangered
if a country’s leading industries perform poorly or are too heavily taxed by inefficient
clientelism. The viability of clientelism may also depend on the kinds of industries at the
global innovation frontier. Clientelistic developed countries, like Japan and Austria, tend
to have “cooperative market economies” that emphasize incremental innovation, stable
labor forces, and applied vocational skills. These economies can sustain clientelism
because firms can easily develop entrenched partisan networks and can “upgrade the
skills and capabilities of clientelistically recruited wage earners and managers
incrementally” (pg. 338) to transform them into effective workers. However, as the
global innovation frontier has shifted to technology and service industries that demand
radical innovation, formal education, and high turnover, clientelism and cooperative
market economies have become unsustainable. Clientelism and economic growth are not
unrelated, but the relationship is unlikely to be a simple and direct one.
Finally, although clientelism leads to cynicism about democracy, it does not
necessarily lead to the instability or collapse of democratic regimes. There is some
empirical evidence that clientelism creates disillusionment with democracy, probably
because clientelism violates democratic norms. However, clientelism can also buy off
discontent and avert programmatic polarization. For example, parties can ameliorate the
negative consequences of economic liberalization by compensating losers with
particularistic benefits. Clientelistic democracies usually benefit the ruling elites and
rarely provide citizens with “a well-connected stratum of political entrepreneurs that
could help them overcome collective action problems and organize the struggle against
the democratic regime” (pg. 342). Clientelism often exerts a direct stabilizing force on a
regime, although it may also exert an indirectly destabilizing force when it impedes
economic growth. The magnitude of these effects, however, can only be tested by
developing stronger data sets and continuing innovative research into citizen-politician

9. Luigi Manzetti and Carole J. Wilson, “Why Do Corrupt Governments Maintain

Public Support?” Comparative Political Studies 40, no. 8 (August 2007), pp.
Corruption is endemic in many democracies. Although voters in these countries
sometimes punish corrupt politicians by removing them from office, this does not always
occur. Some politicians and parties enjoy widespread public support and continue to win
elections despite their reputation for corruption. Luigi Manzetti and Carole J. Wilson
argue that corrupt governments are able to maintain public support where weak state
institutions allow them to distribute patronage and buy off a critical mass of voters. When
states are ineffective, corrupt politicians have both the opportunity and the resources to
fulfill people’s unmet needs through clientelistic networks, and citizens are unlikely to be
critical of corruption. As state effectiveness increases, however, citizens become less
dependent on and tolerant of corruption. Because corrupt governments in weak
democracies generally have little external pressure and few internal incentives to improve
governance, political reform is likely to occur only gradually and with international
Weak states provide both the supply and the demand for clientelism, and therefore
undermine political accountability. Because these states are unable or unwilling to
effectively deliver public goods, they create demand for politicians to provide private
goods as substitutes. Because weak states lack strong checks and balances or professional
civil services, they provide a supply of resources that politicians can divert towards
private, politicized use. Weak states make clientelism an inexpensive and effective
electoral strategy. Under these circumstances, voters are unlikely to punish politicians for
their corruption. By contrast, effective states make clientelism costly and ineffective for
both politicians and citizens, reduce dependence on patronage, and increase the
likelihood that citizens will hold politicians accountable for corruption. Corruption is
more harmful to politicians when strong government institutions make it difficult “to
capture the state apparatus to reward political loyalties and dispense tangible benefits”
(pg. 963) on a scale large enough to maintain popular support.
The interaction between corruption and government effectiveness is a statistically
powerful predictor of popular support for the government. Using individual-level data
from the 1995 World Values Survey and national quality of governance data, Manzetti
and Wilson modeled public support for the current political leadership in 14 countries.
Respondents were asked how widespread they believed corruption and bribery were
among public officials and how satisfied they were with current political leaders.
Corruption perceptions, inflation, and subjective economic well-being were all significant
in determining respondents’ satisfaction with current leaders. However, when
governments were less effective and provided opportunities for clientelism, the impact of
corruption on public opinion was more pronounced. Forty-three percent of hypothetical
average citizens living under the least effective government observed in the survey will
support that government if they believe political corruption is endemic, while fifty-six
percent of these same citizens will support the government if they believe corruption is
virtually nonexistent. By contrast, only twenty percent of hypothetical citizens in a
country with the most effective observed government will support that government if
they believe it is endemically corrupt, and sixty percent will support the government if
they believe corruption is minimal. The quality of governance has little impact on public
opinion when corruption is low (public approval varies from 56 to 60 percent), but good
governance actually leads to a large and statistically significant drop in public support
(public approval drops from 43 percent to 20 percent) when corruption is high. As the
authors explain, “those who perceive high levels of corruption are significantly less likely
to punish the government in countries where government effectiveness is low…because
they are likely to be beneficiaries of patronage” (pg. 962).
Corrupt politicians’ dependence on weak states has both positive and negative
implications. Because corrupt politicians are able to maintain support by exploiting weak
state institutions for political gain, weak democracies face an uphill battle in building
capacity and improving governance. Corrupt incumbents have a disincentive to reform,
and challengers are unlikely to attract support unless they build their own clientelistic
networks. The 2002 fiscal crisis in Argentina, for example, has expanded the power of
the ruling Peronist party by increasing the number of impoverished citizens who depend
on patronage; neoliberal leaders across the developing world, including Argentina’s
Carlos Menem, have enthusiastically tackled macroeconomic reforms but have not
reformed political institutions. Any change will most likely occur gradually and depend
in part on international donors’ insistence on anticorruption and political reform
measures. However, once countries develop strong state institutions, corrupt governments
are unlikely to stay in power, as corrupt leaders cannot buy votes when they cannot
exploit the state. For countries that lie in between the two extremes of governance, the
fate of corrupt leaders is not predestined. In this middle ground, the most important
battles between machines and reformers will be fought.
10. Simeon Nichter, “Vote Buying or Turnout Buying? Machine Politics and the
Secret Ballot,” American Political Science Review 102, no. 1 (February 2008),
pp. 19–31.
Studies of clientelism and machine politics have often examined political parties’
attempts to buy votes. Conventional wisdom holds that machine parties, such as the
Peronist party in Argentina, provide voters with material inducements before elections in
exchange for support at the ballot box. However, secret ballots complicate vote buying
because they prevent parties from effectively and comprehensively monitoring which
candidates voters select at the ballot box, creating a principal-agent problem. Given this
paradox, Simeon Nichter argues that much of the behavior commonly perceived as vote
buying can be better understood as turnout buying: instead of paying voters to cast their
vote for a particular candidate once at the polling place, machines pay voters simply to
arrive at the polling place and vote.
In distinguishing between vote buying and turnout buying, Nichter develops a two-
dimensional typology for targeting rewards. Rewards may be targeted at citizens who are
inclined or not inclined to vote in an election and at citizens who favor or do not favor the
party. Vote buying entails targeting indifferent or opposition-supporting citizens who are
likely to vote and requires monitoring vote choice. Turnout buying entails targeting
supportive citizens who are not inclined to vote and requires monitoring turnout. Two
additional strategies in the typology are “rewarding loyalists” (targeting citizens who are
supportive and likely to vote) and “double persuasion” (pg. 20) (targeting citizens who
are unsupportive and unlikely to vote). Although parties and candidates are likely to use
multiple strategies, the relative prevalence of vote buying and turnout buying can be
compared by assessing whether machines target strong supporters (turnout buying) or
weak opponents (vote buying).
Nichter uses the assumptions and data from Susan Stokes’s 2005 analysis of vote
buying clientelism in Argentina to construct an alternate formal model of turnout buying.
He then empirically tests his model against Stokes’s using survey data on Argentine
electoral behavior. The turnout buying model assumes that potential voters face
ideological costs of voting for a party with different policy preferences from themselves,
as well as a constant material cost of voting regardless of who they vote for. Potential
voters choose to vote because of the prospect that they will receive a reward for voting
that will exceed the cost of voting. By contrast, the vote buying model assumes that
potential voters always vote because they face no material cost of voting. In both models,
politicians first pay potential voters and then monitor actual voting behavior, with some
probability that they are able to monitor successfully. Citizens’ ideological views are
endogenous; accepting rewards from a party does not sway citizens’ ideological views. If
a citizen receives a reward and does not honor their agreement with the party, the party
will permanently cease to offer rewards to that citizen.
Although both turnout buying and vote buying are effective strategies under the right
circumstances, Argentine political parties appear to use turnout buying more than vote
buying. Both strategies become more effective as the value of the reward offered to
citizens and the ability of the party to monitor behavior increase, but they require
different behavior from political parties to be effective. Turnout buying is most useful
when parties target individuals who are ideologically close to the party, so that the
ideological cost of voting is lower. Vote buying, however, is most useful when parties
target individuals who are weakly opposed to the party. Because voters have no material
costs of voting, voters who are ideologically supportive of a party will vote for it
regardless of the reward. Parties that target supporters are practicing turnout buying,
while parties that target weak opponents are practicing vote buying. Using Stokes’s
survey data, Nichter assesses which behavior Argentine parties seem to predominantly
use and finds support for her hypothesis of turnout buying. In Argentina, the Peronist
party is noted for distributing clientelistic rewards to citizens. Because citizens supportive
of the Peronist party were most likely to receive rewards, Stokes concludes that parties
distributed most rewards to supporters. Parties appear to be rewarding unmobilized
supporters (persuading them to vote) rather than rewarding mobilized supporters
(recognizing loyalty): those who voted in previous elections were not more likely to
receive rewards.
The distinction between vote buying and turnout buying is theoretically meaningful
but blurry in practice. In theory, Nichter argues that turnout buying can increase
participation among the poor and is less unambiguously negative for democracy,
although it is not without problems. In reality, the distinction between vote buying and
turnout buying is likely to be somewhat unclear for two reasons. First, parties may also
employ a strategy of “double persuasion” to target citizens who are both ideologically
indifferent and unlikely to vote. Second, parties may employ both vote and turnout
buying to attract support from both weak opponents and unmobilized supporters.
Surveying the need for further research, Nichter proposes developing formal models of
parties’ decisions to allocate resources between vote buying and turnout buying
strategies, calls for panel data on voting behavior that can address whether voters’
opinions of parties are swayed by their acceptance of rewards, and notes that further
qualitative research is necessary to examine the assumptions behind formal models.

11. Frederic Charles Schaffer, “Lessons Learned,” in Elections for Sale: The Causes
and Consequences of Vote Buying, ed. Frederic Charles Schaffer (Boulder:
Lynne Rienner, 2007), pp. 183–200.
Vote buying is a unique electoral strategy, because it is both a method of voter
mobilization and vote manipulation. However, it is not the only available method of
either mobilization or manipulation. Vote buying has unique costs, benefits, and
organizational prerequisites that condition when politicians chose to buy votes and how
they do so. Because the monetary and organizational costs of vote buying tend to be
fairly high and the benefits fairly low, candidates will only embrace vote buying when
other forms of manipulation are not viable, programmatic campaigning is difficult, and
votes can be bought cheaply. The electoral strategies and tactics that candidates embrace
have diverse political and economic consequences. Most of the consequences associated
with vote buying are negative, but some of these consequences only result from particular
vote buying tactics. Others result from a broad range of mobilization and manipulation
strategies. Combating these consequences is difficult: vote buying is resilient against
most (although not all) reform efforts. To review the causes and consequences of vote
buying highlighted in Elections for Sale, Frederic Charles Schaffer highlights key
questions addressed throughout the volume that explain when vote buying occurs and
what happens when it does.
Vote buying requires sophisticated political organizations and substantial financial
resources, yet it is highly inefficient unless politicians can effectively violate ballot
secrecy. To buy votes, candidates need a grassroots organization of brokers who can use
their local knowledge to identify potential vote sellers and ensure that vote sellers comply
with the bargain. At the same time, candidates and central party offices must avoid
prosecution and monitor brokers to ensure that they are not embezzling funds. To finance
building an expansive organization and distributing handouts, politicians develop
relationships with the party or government, find wealthy backers, or engage in illegal
activity that requires additional organizational capacity. The sums of money required are
large, although the exact amount is difficult to measure precisely. Vote buying is a
“retail” strategy that targets voters individually instead of a more efficient “wholesale
strategy,” such as advertising or restricting opposition parties, that can affect elections en
While costly, vote buying is not a particularly dependable strategy. Because it is not a
normal market transaction, it cannot be enforced with standard legal mechanisms.
Instead, politicians enforce vote sales with normative inducements, informal sanctions,
contingency payments, and electoral surveillance. The first three methods are generally
ineffective because voters can defect undetected, and empirical evidence suggests that
they do defect more often than not. Only electoral surveillance, which involves exploiting
or violating electoral rules to observe sellers’ voting behavior, is generally effective.
“Negative vote buying” should be particularly common, because it is easier to prevent
individuals from voting than to monitor how they vote, yet it is empirically rare. It is
difficult to identify opposition supporters willing to sell their vote, and attempting to buy
abstention in an opponents’ stronghold can be dangerous for the broker. When
individuals can relinquish their ability to vote by surrendering a voter registration card or
dipping their finger in ink, and when political loyalties can easily be identified based on
ethnicity, negative vote buying does occasionally occur.
Because it has high costs and limited benefits, vote buying is only an attractive
electoral strategy under certain circumstances. First, other strategies for manipulation
must be ineffective. Social change or political enfranchisement can make voters more
independent and less susceptible to outright coercion, making vote buying appealing
when voters are integrated enough into social networks to be effectively targeted, but not
so integrated to be easily controlled. Electoral procedures must also make wholesale
fraud difficult without effectively inhibiting vote buying (retail fraud may be inherently
more difficult to control than wholesale fraud). Second, politicians must prefer vote
buying to other mobilization strategies. Institutional rules encourage vote buying when
they give politicians easy access to state resources, create small electoral districts (raising
the value of individual votes), and encourage intraparty competition (making it difficult
for candidates to distinguish themselves programmatically). However, non-institutional
factors that may vary within countries or extend across regions are equally potent.
Decentralized party systems with large grassroots networks make targeting and
monitoring easier than coordinating policy platforms, particularly when parties can
exploit high income inequality to buy votes cheaply. Finally, in societies where gift-
giving traditions and strong norms of reciprocity pressure vote sellers to behave honestly,
fewer sellers will defect.
Vote buying can have serious consequences for democratic representation, good
governance, and even economic structure. However, because the incentives that
encourage vote buying are so complex, they cause diverse vote buying practices with
different implications. The normative implications of vote buying depend, in part, on
individuals’ motivations for selling their votes. If citizens sell votes merely because they
value large material payoffs, then these citizens’ votes contain no information about their
true policy preferences. By contrast, if citizens sell votes because they are skeptical or
impatient about future programmatic promises, then their voting behavior expresses their
preference for an immediate and certain reward. The economic implications of vote
buying are more severe if politicians buy votes through agricultural landlords who direct
the behavior of their workers: landlords will increase their landholdings in order to gain
more workers and therefore more political power, consolidating land ownership in the
process. Other consequences of vote buying are shared across many electoral strategies:
vote buying and patronage both cause legislators to provide private goods and discourage
legislators from developing unique policy positions and taking credit for legislative
initiatives. Effectively analyzing the consequences of vote buying requires distinguishing
consequences that are exclusive and inevitable results of vote buying from those that are
also associated with other electoral strategies or are only associated with particular vote
buying tactics.
Across its many incarnations, vote buying is difficult to combat. Demand-side voter
education campaigns, in particular, are rarely effective. These campaigns tend to assume
that people sell votes out of material need and fear, and in doing so unintentionally
patronize voters. The campaigns ignore voters’ feelings of friendship and obligation
toward brokers—who are often their neighbors or friends—and voters’ perceptions that
candidates distribute gifts out of generosity and kindness. Supply-side reforms are more
effective, although their track record is still decidedly mixed. In Taiwan, the government
adopted an aggressive strategy of prosecuting vote buyers that succeeded in curbing the
practice. In Thailand, however, a comprehensive set of constitutional reforms failed to
curb vote buying: some of the reform measures counteracted or diluted others, and
candidates excelled at adapting to new institutional constraints and obtaining additional
financial resources to continue to vote buying. The aggressive and nonpartisan
enforcement of electoral laws, in short, appears to be the best option for curbing vote
buying. While the diverse and multifaceted practice is unlikely to disappear entirely,
further research can at least help explain it.


12. Michael Bratton, “Formal versus Informal Institutions in Africa,” Journal of

Democracy 18, no. 3 (July 2007), pp. 96–110.
Both formal and informal institutions shape political behavior. In consolidated
democracies with well-established rule of law, like the United States, Western Europe,
and Japan, formal institutions such as elections and limited government play a relatively
large role in shaping behavior. However, in emerging democracies like those in Africa,
these formal institutions coexist with neopatrimonial informal institutions: clientelism,
corruption, and “Big Man” presidentialism. Some scholars emphasize the importance of
formal institutions in African governance, while others believe they are overshadowed by
neopatrimonial patterns of behavior that coopt the formal state apparatus. In this article,
Michael Bratton uses data from a multinational Afrobarometer survey to examine the
relative power of formal and informal democratic institutions in Africa and to address the
question separating “formalists” from “informalists.”
Bratton finds that the influence of formal democratic institutions in African politics is
mixed. Africans generally prefer democracy to other forms of government. The great
success of democracy is that “regular, open elections are now an institutionalized feature
of African politics” (pg. 108) with widespread popular support. However, popular
attachment to the other formal institutions of democracy—multiple parties, strong
legislatures, and the rule of law—is weaker, and support for democracy has declined
marginally as the supply of good democratic governance remains lower than demand.
Given the shortage of strong formal institutions, Africans continue to depend heavily on
the quality of informal institutions: their trust in the president, access to patronage, and
freedom from corruption. Because “formal rules mandating accountability are
persistently weak, people turn to other standards for judging the extent of democratic
growth” (pg. 109) and determining how democratic their own countries actually are.
The article begins by surveying the conflict between formalists and informalists and
proposing the use of Afrobarometer data to empirically examine the relative role of
formal and informal institutions. The Afrobarometer, a comparative series of public
attitude surveys on democracy, governance, markets, and civil society conducted in three
rounds in 18 African countries, offers a means to evaluate three informal and five formal
institutions. It measures attitudes toward the informal institutions of clientelism,
corruption, and presidentialism by asking survey respondents whether citizens should
question or defer to authority, whether leaders should help their home community or treat
all citizens equally, how many legislators the respondents believe are involved in
corruption, and how much the respondents trust the president. The survey inquired about
the perceived extent of the formal institutions of free and fair elections, elections that
remove leaders, peaceful multiparty competition, representative legislatures, and
presidents’ subjection to the law. In addition, the survey inquired about general attitudes
towards and assessments of democracy.
The survey finds that the demand for democracy in Africa is notably higher than the
supply. In other words, citizens value democracy in the abstract but do not believe that
actual democratic governments are functioning adequately. Approximately 62 percent of
respondents in 2005 preferred democracy to military, one party, and one man rule.
However, the number dropped slightly from 69 percent in 1999. Less than 50 percent of
respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the level of democracy in their
country, and less than 50 percent of survey subjects in 2005 believed that any given
formal institution was actually present in their country. Evidence suggests that better
formal institutions can increase support for democracy: in Lesotho, the percentage of
respondents preferring democracy rose 10 percent following electoral reforms enacted
between 1999 and 2002.
After reviewing the attitudes demonstrated in the Afrobarometer survey, Bratton
discusses the factors that influence these attitudes. The demand for democracy is most
influenced by education, which has an impact three times greater than other factors. Men,
urbanites, Muslims, and the elderly are also more supportive of democracy. Bratton
hypothesizes that “Big Man” presidentialism and elections—one formal and one informal
institution—will have the largest impact on perceived supply of democracy, based on
previous research. A regression model of these two variables finds that elections (a
formal institution) are more significant than presidentialism (an informal institution).
However, a model that omits elections but considers all other formal and informal
institutions finds that presidentialism has by far the greatest impact, although all seven
factors were statistically significant. Bratton hypothesizes that the large role of informal
institutions is caused by the discrepancy between supply of and demand for democracy,
as “people will seek to make up for perceived institutional deficiencies by counting on
the informal ties characteristic of clientelism, corruption, and presidentialism” (pg. 107)
and will equate their assessment of these informal ties with their assessment of
While elections may be a consolidated feature of African politics, citizens seem less
attached to other formal institutions: “the general idea of ‘rule by the people’ remains an
attractive prospect” (pg. 108) but Africans do not share a Western liberal concept of what
institutional arrangements constitute rule by the people. Because formal institutions for
accountability are weak and have failed to bring about rule by the people, Bratton
concludes that informal institutions heavily define African perceptions of democracy. In
some cases, he believes this definition can reinforce the legitimacy of a weak regime by
distributing clientelistic benefits. However, it also poses a danger of undermining
democracy when political elites retain the benefits of the state for themselves.
13. Staffan I. Lindberg and Minion K.C. Morrison, “Are African Voters Really
Ethnic or Clientelistic? Survey Evidence from Ghana,” Political Science
Quarterly 123, no. 1 (Spring 2008), pp. 95–122.
Political scientists have frequently characterized newly democratic African states as
beset by ethnic and clientelistic voting behavior. To many scholars, this is an issue for
concern: democracy is less likely to produce effective policy outcomes if voters support
candidates because of personal ties (a “non-evaluative” rationale) rather than assessments
of performance and policy (an “evaluative” rationale). Few scholars, however, have
empirically examined voting behavior in the young democracies of Africa. In conducting
such as examination, Staffan I. Lindberg and Minion K.C. Morrison find far less
evidence of ethnic and clientelistic voting than the literature would predict. Between 10
and 15 percent of respondents in a survey of Ghanaian voters indicated that they had
supported a local parliamentary candidate based on non-evaluative rationales, but the vast
majority reported voting based on evaluative rationales typical of more mature
democracies, and particularly based on their assessments of parties rather than
candidates. Despite generally mature voting behavior, clientelistic voting is rising and is
more likely to occur in competitive electoral districts, suggesting that competitive
elections may expand clientelism.
Lindberg and Morrison discuss six rationales that Ghanaian voters might follow: four
evaluative and two non-evaluative. Because most African democracies are relatively
young, scholars have more extensively studied non-evaluative rationales compatible with
authoritarian rule: clientelism and proxy voting. Clientelism entails voting on “the
promise or supply of personal favors, patronage, service, or assistance, to oneself or to
close kin” (pg. 102) and proxy voting entails uncritically following the voting decision of
a family or ethnic leader. These contrast with the two-dimensional, fourfold typology of
evaluative voting behaviors that has emerged in the study of voting behavior elsewhere in
the world. Voters may base their decision on either a prospective evaluation of policy
pledges or a retrospective evaluation of performance, and on either the personal qualities
and commitments of a candidate or the programmatic pledges of a party. In reality, these
ideal-typical voting rationales are likely to interact with each other, with voters’
multilayered identities, and with electoral systems (in the case of Ghana, first-past-the-
post) to determine how ballots are cast.
Although no single rationale dominates Ghanaian voting behavior, evaluative
rationales do dominate non-evaluative ones. Based on a deliberately representative 2003
survey of Ghanaians that asked respondents about their voting rationales in the 1996 and
2000 elections, the authors conclude that most voters are not ethnic or clientelistic. In the
1996 elections, nearly half of all voters cast their ballot on the basis of a party mandate
(prospective voting for a party), approximately 90 percent used some evaluative
rationale, 4 percent voted based on clientelism, and 6 percent voted based on a proxy. In
the 2000 elections, as voters gained experience with the democratic system, rationales
shifted from party mandate to government accountability (retrospective voting for a
party), which were each responsible for 29 percent of voting decisions. Despite the first-
past-the-post electoral system, which tends to encourage close relationships between
constituents and legislators, voters more often based their decisions on parties than on
individual members of parliament, indicative of both voter maturity and the weakness of
legislators relative to the executive branch. Clientelism and proxy voting both increased:
5.5 percent voted based on clientelism and 8.3 percent voted based on proxy. In both
elections, there was little evidence of ethnic and tribal voting. Although respondents will
likely underreport clientelism and proxy voting, the authors’ field research experiences
suggested that underreporting was surprisingly minor.
While Lindberg and Morrison interpret the relatively low rates of clientelism and
proxy voting as positive signs for Ghanaian democracy, they note one concerning trend in
the data: democracy appears to increase clientelism. As voters gained more experience
with democratic political systems, clientelistic voting decisions increased. Furthermore,
these rationales were more common in districts that were highly competitive, reaching 12
percent in one hotly contested district. Although small as a proportion of the electorate,
clientelistic voters may be marginally important enough for politicians to pursue: if
elections are close and policy-oriented voters do not respond negatively to clientelism, it
is a rational strategy for candidates. This evidence supports a pessimistic hypothesis that
checks and balances, media and civil society, and voter accountability are insufficient to
balance out the incentives that elections create to purchase the support of poor voters.
The rise of clientelistic and ethnic voting, if it becomes a substantial feature of
Ghanaian politics, contradicts basic liberal democratic values. Clientelistic politicians are
likely to sacrifice the public interest and erode the “core institution…whereby the right of
the people to self-government can be exercised” (pg. 95). Not only does clientelism
undermine politicians’ vertical accountability to voters because clientelistic voters do not
critically dissect policies, it also undermines elites’ horizontal accountability to each
other. Politicians will trade favors with each other and prioritize patronage over
policymaking and oversight. The pressure to provide particularistic goods can lead to a
“vicious circle of increasing demands and patronage that in extension can undermine the
legitimacy of democratic elections” and discourage candidates “who do not have the
funds to sustain such campaigns, or who find the custom inconsistent with good
democratic practice” (pg. 120). If the results of the survey are generalizable to the rest of
Africa, as Lindberg and Morrison believe they are, young African democracies face a
bright but not uncomplicated future.

14. Pedro C. Vicente and Leonard Wantchekon, “Clientelism and Vote Buying:
Lessons from Field Experiments in African Elections,” Oxford Review of
Economic Policy 25, no. 2 (2009), pp. 292–305.
African governments typically provide a suboptimal level of public goods to their
citizens. Instead of campaigning on and pursuing broad policies such as economic
growth, education, health care, and infrastructure development, politicians campaign on
and pursue particularistic policies such as bribes and the distribution of state offices.
Pedro C. Vicente and Leonard Wantchekon distinguish between two particularistic
strategies for winning an election: vote buying and clientelism. Vote buying entails
providing supporters with resources prior to the election (such as cash bribes), while
clientelism entails providing supporters with resources after the election (such as
government jobs). Although these behaviors are politically effective, they are unlikely to
be economically efficient and are often seen as a major reason for Africa’s
Pedro C. Vicente and Leonard Wantchekon study the causes and consequences of
vote buying and clientelism in Africa to understand how to better provide public goods.
The authors draw on field experiments they conducted in West Africa, a methodological
approach that can identify causality better than observational studies, such as surveys and
ethnographies, and that is more generalizable than lab experiments in controlled settings.
This methodology allows them to draw conclusions about cause and effect that are
applicable in a wide range of contexts. They find that clientelism is particularly effective
for incumbent candidates, while opposition candidates are relatively more successful in
buying votes and promising public goods. Incumbents have a significant advantage in
elections because clientelism is more effective at attracting support than vote buying.
Policymakers, however, can develop support for public goods by emphasizing civic
education campaigns that mitigate the effect of vote buying on actual voting behavior and
by encouraging participation among women, who are more supportive of public goods
Each coauthor conducted an independent experiment during a presidential election in
West Africa. Wantchekon examined the impact of a campaign platform on voting
behavior during the 2001 election in Benin. He approached four of the leading five
presidential candidates and convinced them to participate in a study that randomized the
campaign messages used in some villages in their stronghold districts (districts where the
candidate’s party gained at least 70 percent of the vote in previous elections). In a total of
eight districts, one village was targeted using a public goods campaign while another was
targeted using a clientelistic campaign. To measure the relationship between campaign
message and voting behavior, Wantchekon conducted a survey after the election to
collect demographic and voting data.
Vicente examined the impact of voter education on voting behavior during the 2006
election in Sao Tome and Principe. With the cooperation of the Sao Tomean Electoral
Commission, the researchers distributed leaflets telling voters not to base their voting
decisions on payments from candidates in 40 census areas and studied the impact of the
leaflets on vote buying. Like Wantchekon, Vicente used a survey to collect demographic
and voting information, but he also used official election results as a secondary outcome
The authors find that clientelism is an effective tool for mobilizing support,
particularly for incumbents, but that policymakers can also effectively change voting
behavior and encourage campaigns based on the provision of public goods. Because only
the winning candidate can provide clientelistic benefits, voters who are promised benefits
have an incentive to vote for the candidate who offers benefits in order to secure these
benefits. In contrast, vote buying contains no enforcement mechanism (voters are not
required to support the candidate who bribes them). The research by Vicente shows that
civic education can diminish the impact of vote buying on actual voting behavior: vote
buying was more effective at increasing turnout than increasing support, as voters
accepted gifts but “voted in conscience.” Wantchekon finds that incumbents benefit most
from clientelistic appeals. Their commitments are more credible than their challengers,’
as they have a demonstrated record of providing benefits. Challengers have a
comparative advantage in vote buying and public goods appeals, although they face an
electoral disadvantage because vote buying is less effective at attracting supporters.
Women, co-ethnics of the candidates, and those with access to information were more
likely to value public goods, and civic education campaigns were particularly effective
among poor and uneducated voters with little prior access to information. Despite the
power of clientelistic and vote buying appeals, the experiments found that those appeals
are not universal or unalterable.
Vicente and Wantchekon conclude the article by discussing ways to encourage
campaigning that focuses on public rather particularistic goods, as well as reviewing
avenues for further research. Because incumbents enjoy an advantage based on their
control of existing resources, electoral systems should limit the power of incumbents with
term limits, public financing, and independent electoral commissions. Foreign donors can
incentivize accountability by making development aid contingent on local political
reforms. Education, media coverage, and the enfranchisement of women can also play a
great role in reducing the power of clientelism and vote buying, although the authors note
that further experimental research is needed in these avenues in order to explain what
specific features of a civic education campaign are effective and explore how female
participation in politics can be increased.
15. Nicolas van de Walle, “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss? The Evolution
of Political Clientelism in Africa,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of
Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert Kitschelt and
Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pg. 50–
The forms that clientelism takes across the world are shaped by countries’ political,
social, and economic characteristics. In postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa, pervasive
clientelism has historically been defined by three principle factors: poverty,
authoritarianism, and ethnic divisions. Because states and parties had few resources, little
capacity to distribute goods or monitor voters, and no need to mobilize voters, African
clientelism prior to democratization in the 1990s did not entail mass patronage. Instead, it
entailed the use of “prebendalism” that gave elites personal access to state offices and
resources—prebends—to facilitate accommodation between various elite factions.
Symbolic ties of kinship and ethnicity constituted a more important relationship between
elites and masses than material ties of clientelism. Many of these patterns have continued
into the democratic era: programmatic politics are rare, ethnicity is the greatest
determinant of political loyalty, and most countries in the region are dominated by
prebendalism. However, a small number of effectively liberalizing African democracies
appear to be transitioning from prebendal clientelism to patronage clientelism, which
involves stronger parties and greater rule of law.
Following René Lemarchand, Nicolas van de Walle distinguishes between three types
of clientelism. Patronage, the most frequently discussed form, involves distributing state
resources such as jobs or food to clients in exchange for political support. It is legally
ambiguous, usually operates through political parties, and is frequently deployed in mass
electoral politics. Tribute, the second kind of clientelism, is a traditional gift exchange
that builds bonds of reciprocity and trust. While frequently invoked by clientelistic
African leaders, it rarely occurs in modern society. Prebendalism, the third type of
clientelism, involves the capture of state office and resources for the personal (rather than
political) gain of leaders. It characterizes most early societies, usually operates through
authoritarian executives, and is unambiguously at odds with the rule of law and
professional administration. Giving a coethnic a job in a customs office, for example,
would be patronage, while allowing a customs officer to skim profits off import duties
would be prebendalism.
Between independence and democratization in the 1990s, the structure of African
states encouraged prebendalism in three ways. First, state institutions at the time of
independence were extremely weak. National governments competed with ethnic and
tribal sources of authority, lacked the infrastructure to deliver services and promote
national integration, and could not penetrate into rural hinterlands. Political parties were
young and, without the rallying cry of independence, lacked the ability to independently
mobilize voters. Instead, they recruited traditional local elites as clientelistic brokers
between the central state and the hinterland. Second, elections were not well-
institutionalized in the newly independent African states. Parties did not need to broadly
distribute patronage in order to obtain support at the polls, because they could simply
bypass elections altogether and seize power by force. Third, states were extremely poor
and underdeveloped. Governments had an extremely limited amount of resources to
distribute. Given these three factors, clientelism was mostly “a mechanism for
accommodation and integration of a fairly narrow political elite rather than a logic of
mass party patronage” and “the stronger link between political elites and the citizenry is
through the less tangible bonds of ethnic identity” (pg. 66). To pacify divides between
elites from different ethnic groups, generational and educational backgrounds, and
institutions (the state, military, church, and unions), executives built broad coalitions by
distributing powerful government posts and tolerating corruption. Civil services remained
relatively small, mass patronage was limited, development spending and tax revenues
were often siphoned off into private accounts, and political parties remained relatively
weak. The state was effectively under the private, prebendal control of a small group of
The emergence of democracy in Africa has not caused a mass shift from clientelistic
to programmatic politics. Many countries in the region, despite holding regular elections,
are still only nominally or partially democratic and do not effectively protect the rights of
their citizens, and continue to demonstrate prebendal patterns of clientelism. In most
cases, parties remain weak and personalized, with a single dominant party surrounded by
small, transient parties. Politicians seek prebends by joining the ruling party or forming a
small, personalized coalition partner rather than pursuing policy goals by coalescing into
a strong, cohesive opposition party. Although programmatic parties enjoy little success,
vote buying is limited. Voters’ widespread belief that politicians from another ethnic
group, region, or religion will not treat them fairly is not always founded. Parties have
little incentive to favor their ethnic bases because these bases are unlikely to defect. In
some party systems, such as in the Ivory Coast, parties in the democratic era have
become more willing to exclude certain groups from the winning coalition in order to
maintain discipline and distribute elite prebends among a smaller circle. To the average
voter, however, the costs and benefits of clientelism are mostly indirect: an ethnic leader
might lose a ministerial appointment or win a prestigious ambassadorship, but his
followers are unlikely to lose or win in material terms.
Clientelism shows no signs of declining throughout the continent, but patronage does
appear to be replacing prebends in the continent’s more consolidated democratic regimes.
In a small number of liberalizing democracies, the rule of law is encouraging a shift to
more legally acceptable forms of clientelism, free media is exposing corrupt practices,
and fair elections are pressuring politicians to be responsive. In countries like Mauritius
and Botswana, where democracy preceded the 1990s, party patronage and the
politicization of the civil service are widespread but prebends are severely restricted.
However, outsider parties—even in these countries—are unable to mount challenges to
incumbents based on policy issues. When given a choice between a programmatic and
clientelistic party, voters are likely to support the clientelistic party, because a winning
clientelistic party, unlike a winning programmatic party, will retaliate against groups that
did not support it. Despite the limited shift away from prebendalism, programmatic
politics are still rare in Africa and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

16. Nicolas van de Walle, “Presidentialism and Clientelism in Africa’s Emerging

Party Systems,” Journal of Modern African Studies 42, no. 2 (June 2003), pp.
Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa are at least nominally multiparty democracies.
Between 1989 and 2000, the region held 87 competitive legislative elections and 65
competitive presidential elections and experienced “the routinisation of multiparty
elections” (pg. 299) for the first time in its history. Although few African states can be
considered genuine liberal democracies, democratization has created meaningful
opposition parties and distinct, functional party systems across most of the region. Using
a database of African elections in the 1990s, Nicolas van de Walle highlights patterns in
African party systems: the continued dominance of parties that won control in the first
competitive elections, the fragmentation and volatility of parties other than the ruling
party, and the ethnic and regional cleavages that divide parties. These trends are driven
by the deeply flawed enforcement of political rights and civil liberties, the intense
personalization of power around the president, and pervasive clientelism that casts
politicians as representatives of ethnic interests rather than policies. Politicians have no
need for programmatic interest aggregation and therefore no need for well-
institutionalized parties: they can most easily obtain state resources by trading the support
of their community to powerful presidents who control government and broker patronage.
Three trends distinguish the multiparty systems of contemporary African
democracies. First, the initial round of democratic elections largely determines which
party is still in power. Without long histories, control of state resources has proven vital
to building stable party institutions that can mobilize voters. Winners of the first
competitive elections, given access to patronage, have subsequently lost control in only
two countries, while parties that have failed to gain control are usually short-lived and
plagued by defections. Because of their better-developed institutions and ability to deploy
state resources in the initial round of elections, former authoritarian parties have enjoyed
continuing success, retaining control in fifteen countries and acting as the principal
opposition force in eight of the eleven countries in which they lost power. Because state
resources are necessary to develop effective parties, a second trend characterizes African
party systems: legislatures are usually characterized by a large number of highly
fragmented parties and a single, dominant leading party. Although the average effective
number of parties is decreasing, fragmented party systems persist in relatively mature
democracies, as proportional representation systems reduce but do not eliminate the
dominance of a leading party. Third, political parties are rarely distinguished by their
ideology. Programmatic parties have been far less successful than those that “adopted a
vague populism during elections, and pitch their campaigns around their opposition to
corruption, services for the population and general, if vague, promises for a better future”
(pg. 304) without discussing policy issues. Successful campaigns depend on personalistic
and ethnic appeals, and parties rarely distinguish themselves on policy programs even
when these programs benefit a particular ethnic group, such as adopting pro-business
platforms that benefit tribes extensively involved in commerce. Finally, although
democracy has politicized ethnicity, this has rarely led to irreconcilable ethnic conflict
and the breakdown of democracy.
Electoral democracy has not lead to genuine liberalism in most of Africa, but it has
lead to some partial liberalization. Governments frequently use their incumbency
advantage to bias elections and abridge freedom of the press, ostensibly independent
judiciaries are poorly trained and overworked, and powerful political figures possess de
facto legal immunity. However, van de Walle sees signs for optimism: where democratic
transitions were genuine and lead to a change in power rather that “an erstwhile
authoritarian ruler donning the garb of democracy” (pg. 307), democratic gains have been
meaningful, and even many de facto authoritarian regimes have become less abusive.
Countries that have developed high-quality liberal democracy frequently eschew the
pattern of single party dominance in favor of a highly competitive, fragmented party
system, although fragmentation is not without its dangers. Politically fragmented
democracies that have failed to consolidate have often been plagued by coups.
Parties are weakened by pervasive presidentialism and clientelism. All but four of
Africa’s forty-five electoral democracies are presidential systems, and, in most,
“legislative elections are a sideshow” (pg. 310) to competition for the powerful and
personalistic top office of president. Local governments, legislators, and even national
ministers have few resources at their disposal, while the president’s office personally
controls a large proportion of the national budget and can act with impunity to distribute
patronage. In the hands of the president, clientelism becomes “a mechanism for
accommodation and integration of a fairly narrow political elite” (pg. 313) across ethnic
groups, educational and generational gaps, and government, military, and church
institutions. This political elite provides symbolic representation and community goods
such as infrastructure development to ethnic constituencies in exchange for votes.
Because the poverty and institutional weakness of African states prevent the president
and political parties from directly distributing patronage to a large proportion of the
electorate, this inter-elite accommodation is the key to continuing political control.
The combination of presidentialism and clientelism encourages politicians to strike
personal accommodations with the president, rather than coalesce into strong,
independent, and well-institutionalized parties. Voters are more interested in obtaining
club goods and symbolic inclusion than effective representation on policy issues, and
politicians need the loyalty of ethnic constituencies so they can trade support for personal
access to state resources. Politicians can maximize their returns by either joining the
president’s party or starting a small, flexible party that can be leveraged in post-election
coalition building and then discarded. In contrast with the historical European experience,
“parties do not really serve to aggregate interests – rather they serve a representation
function” (pg. 314) where “the political system conceives of elected office largely in
terms of the access to the state resources that it confers” (pg. 315). Although it is possible
that some parties will eventually seek a comparative advantage in making aggressive
programmatic appeals, van de Walle is pessimistic. As long as some parties adopt
clientelistic ethnic appeals, voters face a heavy cost if they support a programmatic party
but a clientelist one wins. If this is the case, African politics will continue to be
dominated by illiberal democracy and weak parties—an imperfect improvement from the
past—for the foreseeable future.


17. Anirudh Krishna, “Politics in the Middle: Mediating Relationships between the
Citizens and the State in Rural North India,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies:
Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert
Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2007), pp. 141–158.
In rural northern India, traditional political linkages are being challenged by an
emerging new class of political entrepreneurs. The relationship between villagers and the
state has historically been mediated by clientelistic rural elites through caste associations
and landlords. Over the past twenty-five years, however, changes in the Indian state have
encouraged the proliferation of new leaders, or naya netas. These naya netas derive their
authority from entrepreneurial political skills rather than formal posts, economic power,
or caste status. They are better educated, better informed, and better able to interact with
the state apparatus and deliver benefits to supporters than traditional elites. With rising
levels of education, the expansion of the state in rural areas, and increasing party
competition, the government and political parties depend on naya netas to implement
policies and attract political support. They have become the primary intermediaries
between citizens and government in villages in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states.
Although the relationship between leaders and followers is still based on the exchange of
material benefits for political support, it is far less hierarchical and authoritarian than
traditional forms of patronage and provides citizens with deeper democracy and increased
economic opportunity.
The role of mediator between state and citizen is often filled by political parties.
However, Indian parties are incapable of fulfilling this role directly because state and
party institutions do not penetrate the village level. Instead, politicians rely upon existing
social structures for interest articulation, mobilization, and policy implementation. During
interviews in 69 villages located in two northern Indian states, Anirudh Krishna found
that naya netas were overwhelmingly villagers’ preferred means of interacting with the
state: 60 percent of respondents indicated a preference for naya netas, while no more than
20 percent indicated a preference for any other intermediary (party officials, traditional
patrons, elected council leaders, and caste leaders). Compared with traditional elites, they
are younger, members of lower castes, and have fewer land holdings, but they are also
better educated, better connected, and better informed. Three-quarters of the naya netas
are from formerly untouchable castes, but they are on average a decade and a half
younger and possess six more years of education. These characteristics enable them to
understand and interact with the state bureaucracy more effectively than traditional elites
can and to help citizens obtain benefits from the state. In particular, they can best provide
economic development, which respondents overwhelming consider their highest priority
from the political system.
Three factors are behind the rise of these new entrepreneurs capable of navigating the
rules of government in rural India. First, improvements in the Indian education system
have empowered poor and low caste citizens. Literacy rates have increased dramatically:
72 percent of lower-caste villagers aged 18 to 25 are functionally literate, compared with
6 percent of those above age 55. As a result, more people are capable of unmediated and
independent access to the state bureaucracy, increasing the potential supply of naya
netas. Education also gives younger leaders an advantage when coming into conflict with
older leaders, because they are able to utilize formal channels of government to their
advantage. Meanwhile, the state has expanded rapidly in rural areas. Between 1980 and
1995, government funding for rural development increased sevenfold. Because the
capacity of state and party institutions in rural areas is weak, government officials
“unofficially, but quite centrally” (pg. 152) rely on village leaders to implement programs
such as small-scale public works and family planning initiatives and to fairly distribute
state employment opportunities that come from these programs. Educated young villagers
—the naya netas—are ideal program leaders because they can keep records, can devote
time to the project without the distraction of other responsibilities, and are highly capable
of interacting with bureaucrats. Third, increasing party competition has forced parties to
go to increasing lengths to attract supporters. Because naya netas attract significant local
support from villagers in exchange for help addressing political problems, they are
courted by politicians who trade development projects for political support. In
combination, these three factors make the support of naya netas appealing for both
villagers and politicians.
The role of the naya neta is undoubtedly clientelistic. As intermediaries between
politicians and voters, they trade personalistic benefits for votes. However, naya netas
provide a more egalitarian and democratic relationship than traditional intermediaries do.
Unlike in traditional clientelistic relationship, villagers can usually choose between
multiple brokers to follow, and brokers can choose from among multiple political parties
to support. The competition for support ensures that brokers and political parties work
honestly and effectively for the welfare of citizens in order to retain support. Naya netas
deepen democracy by increasing both participation (of traditionally parochial groups) and
contestation (between parties and between patrons). However, for all their virtues, they
are essentially a stopgap measure. Better brokers do not “constitute a sustainable solution
to the vacuum of upward representation that separates villagers from the Indian state”
(pg. 157) and continue villagers’ reliance on individuals over institutions. Because the
internal politics of Indian parties are rarely democratic, it is unlikely that naya netas can
coalesce into a formal party apparatus. Naya netas provide a benign form of clientelism
that can strengthen democracy, but they are no substitute for programmatic, party-based
linkages that eventually must take hold.

18. Bruce Kam-Kwan Kwong, “Patron-Client Politics in Hong Kong: A Case Study
of the 2002 and 2005 Chief Executive Elections,” Journal of Contemporary
China 16, no. 52 (August 2007), pp. 389–415.
Clientelism dominates the selection of the Hong Kong Chief Executive. The Chief
Executive, created in 1997 to replace the British Governor, is nominated and selected
through a “small circle” election by political elites, most of whom represent economic
sectors such as finance, higher education, textiles, and agriculture. Traditional Chinese
political culture encourages the use of intra-elite personal connections for political ends.
As a result, candidates can develop personal relationships with electors, monitor electors’
public nominations, and trade state offices, government resources, and public recognition
for political support. The first two Chief Executives have both expanded their supply of
patronage resources by cultivating a close relationship with the Beijing government and
its local loyalists. By deploying these resources, they have been able to secure
overwhelming support from the elite electorate and, since the initial round of elections,
preempt the nomination of competing candidates. In exchange, the mainland government
is able to exercise control over Hong Kong politics without violating the region’s formal
autonomy. However, while clientelistic politics remains strong, the absolute dominance
of the loyalist faction is eroding in the face of better-organized democratic opposition.
The combination of political institutions and cultural practices in Hong Kong are
highly conducive to clientelistic politics. The tiered electoral system used for selecting
the Chief Executive encourages candidates to make personalized, clientelistic bargains in
addition to generalized, programmatic pledges. The Executive is selected by a 400-voter
committee (in 1996) or an 800-voter committee (since 2002). Although the committee’s
exact composition varies, it is comprised mostly of representatives elected by
professional and business organizations but also includes a small number of
representatives from geographic constituencies and religious groups, Hong Kong
delegates to mainland political bodies, and the members of the Hong Kong Legislative
Council. Electors must publicly support the nomination of a single candidate, but they
cast their final votes secretly. Candidates with more than 100 public nominations are
included in the final secret ballot. While the Chief Executive cannot monitor the final
vote, he can monitor the nomination process and reward or punish electors accordingly.
The instrumental use of guanxi (friendship) and the involvement of ren-ch’ing (personal
relations) in politics—rewarding and punishing electors—is generally an accepted
practice and has expanded with the advent of greater political competition since
retrocession. As such, clientelism is both an institutionally viable and a culturally
acceptable tactic.
Electors who support the winning candidate expect to receive political rewards. A
survey of the Election Committee members in 2002 found that most expected to obtain
particularistic benefits for their constituencies in exchange for political support: 80
percent thought that the executive should be especially responsive to their personal
problems and sectoral interests, and a plurality of 41 percent expected more resources for
their sectors. Smaller segments of the committee were more personalistic: 8 percent
nominated Tung Chee-hwa (the winning candidate) because they were asked by a friend,
12 percent did so because it would be helpful to their career, 6 percent hoped for an
appointment to a government consultative committee, and 6 percent supported appointing
electors to government or advisory positions. Tung targeted four groups of particularly
critical electors with these more extensive benefits: personal friends and allies, backers of
his initial rise to power, influential Beijing supporters in Hong Kong, and potential
opponents who could be coopted with patronage. They received access to public
resources, receptions and awards, prestigious government jobs, and positions on
consultative committees and mainland political bodies. Appointments to consultative
committees, heightened social status, and prestigious government awards were the most
valued benefits for building political support.
In all three rounds of executive elections in Hong Kong, the small-circle electoral
system and the “prevailing elite political culture that stressed guanxi and ren-ch’ing” (pg.
399) have inhibited real competition. Tung Chee-hwa was able to win the initial election
in 1996 because he built strong patron-client relationships with electors and members of
the Preparatory Committee that organized the transition from British to Chinese rule.
This network included important Hong Kong businesspeople, prominent Beijing
supporters, and members of the mainland political structure, including his “ultimate
patron” (pg. 413), Chinese President Jiang Zemin. For the mainland government,
patronage was “an effective, legitimate but hidden means of control” (pg. 414) that
bypasses popular mistrust and formal political autonomy by utilizing the mainland’s
cultural and business ties to Hong Kong. By the 2002 elections, support for opposition
candidates had withered away as the pro-Beijing patronage network solidified. The
opposition was unable to obtain enough public support from Election Committee
members to nominate a rival candidate for Chief Executive, even though public approval
for the Tung government was low. After Tung resigned in 2005, his successor, Donald
Tsang, likewise did not face any opposing nominees. Tsang had weaker ties to Beijing
loyalists, and encountered initial skepticism because he was a civil servant in the British
colonial regime. However, he was able to win widespread support by attracting the
backing of Hu Jintao and the Beijing government and continuing benefits for key electors
and constituencies.
Although clientelism remains important, the power of the incumbent Chief Executive
seems to be fading. The democratic opposition has become politically savvy and
strategically sophisticated: they now control 134 seats in the Election Committee, with
strong support from the legal, education, and university sectors, and plan to nominate a
well-respected and moderate lawyer named Alan Leong Kah Kit to run against Tsang in
2007. Unless Tsang can coopt a large number of opposition and independent electors, the
democrats have the 100 nominations necessary to hold a competitive election with secret
ballots. Furthermore, support for Donald Tsang has eroded, as he has failed to build up
good personal relations with Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong and has been criticized by
the Beijing government for allowing the opposition to gain strength. Given popular
mistrust and formal autonomy, Beijing relies upon clientelism to influence Hong Kong
politics and has attempted to expand the reach of guanxi and ren-ch’ing. However, given
Hong Kong’s long tradition of pluralism, hegemonic clientelism appears unsustainable.
19. Emmanuel Teitelbaum and Tariqu Thachil, “Party Fragmentation and the
Emergence of Programmatic Spending in the Indian States,” paper presented
at conference on “Redistribution, Public Goods & Political Market Failures,”
April 9–10, 2010, Yale University.
In developing democracies, the relationship between citizens and politicians is often
characterized by hierarchical, clientelistic ties. In exchange for electoral support,
politicians provide impoverished voters with excludable state resources. This pattern has
traditionally dominated politics even in India, a successful and relatively stable
developing democracy. However, according to Teitelbaum and Thachil, greater voter
enfranchisement and changing party structures in recent decades have begun a transition
away from clientelism and towards programmatic, participatory politics that emphasize
voter autonomy and the provision of public goods. This has occurred as the traditional
dominance of the Indian National Congress party and upper-caste elites has eroded with
the rise of lower-caste political parties. The emergence of caste-based parties has
increased party system fragmentation and, under India’s first-past-the-post electoral rules,
allows politicians to win elections with a relatively small plurality of votes. A study of
formal institutions would suggest that this increases clientelism, because politicians can
win office by targeting a narrow constituency with clientelistic benefits. The opposite has
actually occurred: the growth of autonomous lower-caste parties has given new-found
autonomy to voters who were previously “encapsulated” into blocs controlled by local
elites. As such, this expansion has forced politicians to appeal to a broad swath of lower-
class voters by providing public goods. Under the socioeconomic conditions that exist in
India, increasing party fragmentation along social cleavages can effectively combat
clientelism and encourage spending on broad social goods like education and healthcare.
Scholars have frequently noted India’s increasing cleavage and fragmentation along
caste lines, but they have drawn contrasting conclusions about these trends. Great
political advancements have been made by the Other Backwards Classes (OBCs), a social
group mostly comprised of the low castes immediately above untouchables and
indigenous tribal communities in the Indian social hierarchy. In the early years of
independence, OBCs’ votes were largely controlled or “encapsulated” by local upper-
caste elites with close ties to the Congress party. OBCs began mobilizing politically in
1960s and 1970s and formed regionally significant political parties by the 1990s,
increasing the fragmentation of the Indian party system and challenging the Congress
party’s traditional dominance. Some scholars have argued that this party fragmentation
caused a decrease in spending on public goods, because fragmentation allows politicians
to win office with the support of a relatively small segment of the population by targeting
clientelistic benefits to a narrow constituency in a first-past-the-post electoral system.
Although formal institutional rules should connect increasing fragmentation with
clientelism, Teitelbaum and Thachil argue that increased fragmentation has actually
decreased clientelism and increased public goods spending in the Indian states. The
broader social trend behind increasing fragmentation—enfranchisement of OBCs—
means that “since political elites in multiparty systems are less able to effectively capture
lower caste votes through traditional clientelist structures, it has become preferable for
them to begin providing public goods to the broad selectorate” (pg. 16). Furthermore, the
relatively poor OBCs have greater need for public services like education and healthcare,
because they cannot afford to purchase these services privately. As such, states with
greater party fragmentation and higher OBC representation should demonstrate three
testable qualities. First, OBC representation should correlate positively with party
fragmentation. Second, party fragmentation should correlate positively with spending on
difficult-to-target social services like education and healthcare, and negatively with
spending on easy-to-target economic services like irrigation and energy. Third, OBC
representation should correlate positively with spending on public goods. As a secondary
measure, the authors also consider literacy rates to assess whether caste-driven party
formation has caused a measurable gap in policy outputs.
Controlling for wealth, ideology, election years, and population, the authors find
strong statistical evidence that the political clout of the OBCs does cause increased rates
of spending on public goods, because it increases party fragmentation. Political
participation of OBCs has a significant and substantial effect on party fragmentation: a
one percent increase in OBC representation leads to a .045 increase in the Effective
Number of Parties by Votes (ENPV) or a .027 increase in the Effective Number of Parties
by Seats (ENPS) and on the levels of education spending. ENPV and ENPS, in turn, are
correlated with increased spending on social services, decreased spending on economic
services, and higher literacy rates. Among the control variables, population was
positively correlated with spending on social services across most of the models, as it is
more difficult to win elections through targeted distribution of benefits when a larger
population increases the size of the selectorate. The combination of these results suggests
that party fragmentation is at least one of the key mechanisms by which the increased
participation of OBCs has led to increased spending on social services.
In contrast to many other scholars, Teitelbaum and Thachil conclude that politicized
ethnicity can, in fact, benefit democracy and good governance. Parties that represent
traditionally marginalized groups transform suffrage into genuine enfranchisement and
shift states away from clientelistic policies based on encapsulation towards programmatic
policies based on the notion of citizenship. The authors suggest that the political
representation of minorities, which appears to strengthen democracy in India, should be
held analytically distinct from ethnic fragmentation. Given ethnic pluralism, “the
increased political salience of ethnic identity…[does] not serve to fracture
communities…but instead weakens relations of local dominance that prevent
marginalized populations from having their demands met” (pg. 30). In divided
developing societies like India, where “rigid clientelist structures that enable a small
group of elites to dominate a heterogeneous society have been the hallmark of political
incorporation” (pg. 31), parties that mirror these social structures and increase
fragmentation can lead towards a more representative and more effective government.

20. Steven I. Wilkinson, “Explaining Changing Patterns of Party-Voter Linkages in

India,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of Democratic Accountability
and Political Competition, ed. Herbert Kitschelt and Steven I. Wilkinson
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 110–140.
Clientelism in modern India has evolved through three distinct eras. Following
independence, the dominant Congress Party initially maintained the same modest levels
of clientelism that existed under the British Raj. Because Congress faced little
competition and poor, rural voters had low expectations from government, politicians did
not need to provide widespread patronage to attract support. Instead, Congress made
alliances with upper-caste local elites who influenced or controlled the voting decisions
of villagers. However, as Congress’s hegemony eroded in the late 1960s, politicians
sought electoral advantage by courting poor voters with patronage. The state and federal
governments competed with each other to provide clientelistic benefits to core party
supporters and key marginal voters through economically ineffective but politically
useful development programs. Now, with increasing economic development, Wilkinson
believes that India is entering a new era of declining clientelism, as constituencies emerge
to advocate for programmatic reform and the state struggles to fulfill growing clientelistic
demands in the face of large budget deficits.
From 1950 until 1967, the dominant Congress Party faced few electoral threats and
had no incentive to extend either clientelistic or programmatic benefits to the parochial
population. Voters did not demand benefits because “low levels of education and literacy
in rural India, and experience with a colonial state that had done little in terms of
development in most rural areas, had created very low expectations of government
among most rural voters” (pg. 112). Instead of building linkages with these voters,
Congress “contracted for votes” (pg. 113) with upper-caste local elites who possessed
social status, martial strength, and economic resources. Local elites relied on norms of
reciprocity, villagers’ ignorance, and the threat of force to manipulate voting behavior.
They reinforced villagers’ beliefs that only a representative from the ruling Congress
Party could provide benefits for the village and that the ruling party was responsible for
providing government services. Villagers were also motivated to vote for Congress
candidates because of their belief, whether true or false, that local elites could monitor
ballots and would punish anyone who voted for the opposition. When politicians or elites
did distribute gifts, they were trivial in value and less influential than citizens’ political
beliefs and patrons’ power.
When the Congress Party began facing serious threats to its power in 1967, levels of
clientelism increased as parties competed for votes by offering expansive patronage
benefits. That year, after a split within the Congress party and the electoral success of
opposition parties in eight of fourteen state elections, candidates realized that “the very
low-costs gifts or threats of retaliation that had been used in the past” (pg. 115) would
merely drive voters away—candidates had to spend lavishly on voters to be seriously
considered by them. The federal and state governments, often controlled by opposing
parties or factions, sought to outbid each other in distributing patronage. In the early
1970s, Indira Ghandi sought to build loyalty to her faction of Congress by creating
Centrally Sponsored Schemes, development programs that targeted narrow electoral
constituencies in rural areas, and by nationalizing and politicizing banks and insurance
companies. In response, state parties developed their own programs, undermining the
long-term effects of the Centrally Sponsored schemes. When the national government
mandated the creation of panchayati raj institutions (village-level political bodies) in the
1990s, members of state legislative assemblies coopted them by becoming involved in
administration and funding. Both federal and then state legislators have created Local
Area Development Schemes that give them personal discretionary budgets to fund
development projects. Most of these projects, despite their proclaimed purpose, have
been far more effective at winning electoral support than actually promoting development
Politicians use diverse tactics to build clientelistic linkages. At the local level, direct
vote buying is common because politicians have little control over development
spending. In villages in Karnataka state, alcohol, cash, and food were frequently used to
sway votes. Local politicians also advertise connections to the MLAs (Members of
Legislative Assemblies) and MPs (Members of Parliament) who control development
spending. MLAs and MPs themselves generally campaign on past performance and the
distribution of patronage to key constituencies instead of mass vote buying. Legislators
distribute development spending, educational opportunities, and jobs to core supporters
and to vital marginal constituencies who can sway the balance of the election, while
minimizing their expenditures on other groups. Preelectoral spending typically targets
impatient, uncommitted marginal constituencies, while postelectoral spending rewards
loyalists for their good behavior. Spending subsides between elections. Legislators’
patronage tends to be biased against lower castes, both because of prejudice and because
lower caste voters are less influential.
The pattern of increasing patronage in recent decades may be reversing itself. As
incomes rise in India, reform constituencies are pressuring the state to curb patronage and
increasing clientelistic demands are putting the state under stress. The growth of the
private sector following India’s 1991 economic reforms has reduced citizens’ dependence
on state spending and created upper-class and business constituencies that favor efficient,
programmatic government. Citizens’ access to information about corruption and
clientelism is expanding due to higher literacy rates, developing media, and freedom of
information laws. International donor organizations, domestic NGOs, and government
offices have increasingly turned their eye toward issues of good governance, and public
opinion polls show that corruption is an increasing concern among Indian voters. As
changing public opinion reduces the demand for clientelism, economic pressures are
reducing the supply of clientelism. Government subsidies are over 14 percent of India’s
gross domestic product, and many states have run unsustainably large budget deficits that
increase production costs and interests rates. The continuation of large yet ineffective
clientelistic transfers presents severe economic dangers. In states with relatively high
literacy rates, large domestic products, and healthy media, such as Punjab, Kerala,
Gujarat, and Maharashtra, reform appears likely as long as these dual pressures of supply
and demand exceed the temptation for politicians to re-regulate the private sector.

Latin America

21. Javier Auyero, “The Logic of Clientelism in Argentina: An Ethnographic

Account,” Latin American Research Review 35, no. 3 (2000), pp. 55–81.
Although the literature on clientelism is fairly large, it has not extensively explored
the operation of clientelistic networks at the grassroots level. Instead, it usually describes
relationships between political elites and mass voters as social classes without critically
examining the popular image of clientelism: poor voters who trade their votes for
material benefits in order to survive. Clientelism is not understood “through its least
known and least spectacular side: the everyday dealings of political brokers, the practices
and perspectives of so-called clients, and the problem-solving networks that links
‘clients,’ brokers, and political patrons” (pg. 58). To develop this understanding, Javier
Auyero provides an ethnographic account of a clientelistic political network in a slum
outside Buenos Aires. He finds that the network of relationships between Peronist party
workers and residents constitutes an important part of the problem-solving network used
to help residents depend on in the face of widespread material deprivation. The
relationship between brokers and residents is not an egalitarian relationship. Instead it is a
“domination network” that attempts to monopolize resources and information in order to
make residents dependent upon the brokers. However, clientelism is not the sole factor in
the continued support for Peronism among the Argentine poor: clientelistic networks in
the slums of Argentina are limited in reach and are not universally respected.
In an attempt to survive amid the desperate living conditions of the Argentine slums,
poor people often turn to political brokers working for the Argentine Peronist party.
These brokers operate local party offices known as Unidad Basicas, from which they
distribute food and medicine provided by state welfare programs and help residents
obtain state resources such as jobs and pensions. Although Peronism has long drawn its
support from the poor, Auyero suggests that their dependence upon Peronist brokers has
increased as state structural adjustment policies, declining job security, and stagnating
demand for unskilled labor cause “widespread material deprivation, persistent joblessness
and misery, and unmerciful economic pressure” (pg. 60). Without enough community
income to provide a horizontal support system among poor people, traditional reciprocal
networks based on family and friendship have begun to overlap with Peronist political
networks that can provide resources. As such, brokers come to play an increasingly
central role in life in the slums.
Peronist brokers operate as gatekeepers, mediating the flow of resources, information,
and votes between supporters in the slums and politicians. Municipal leaders distribute
food and medicine to the Unidades Basicas for brokers to give out as they see fit. These
leaders also ensure that brokers are supplied with scarce information, such as knowledge
of the procedures residents must follow to obtain food at a monthly giveaway held at the
municipal building. Brokers attempt to monopolize both information and material
resources and occasionally spread confusion and misinformation in order to retain this
problem-solving monopoly within the slum. As other channels of assistance disintegrate,
residents in need become dependent on the Peronist network. While most of the brokers’
followers interact with the brokers only when they need a problem solved and reciprocate
by voting for the broker and appearing at rallies, successful brokers also retain an inner
circle of followers bound to the broker “through strong ties of long-lasting friendship,
parentage, or fictive kinship” (pg. 64). The inner circle interacts with the broker on a
weekly basis, often begins their relationship with a major, foundational favor, and is
partially motivated by the hope of receiving more valuable forms of patronage such as
city jobs.
Attitudes towards these brokers—and towards politics in general—are decisively
split. Many in the slum see brokers as corrupt bosses who manipulate people for their
own benefit and keep scant resources for themselves. However, those who frequently rely
on brokers as problem solvers hold a different opinion: they admire the brokers as caring
and self-sacrificing. These residents do not see brokers as agents inserting themselves
between residents and state entitlements, but rather as principals who distribute benefits
out of their own goodwill. The power of the brokers is personalized: “the organization
that grants a pension, offers a job, or gives out medicine or a food package is not the
local, provincial, or national government but Matilda or Juan” (pg. 71). Benefits are not a
right whose denial can be appealed to a third party, but a gift that creates an unspoken
obligation for recipients to demonstrate loyalty. Residents see themselves as removed
from the realm of politics: elections are primarily an opportunity for obtaining more state
resources from brokers, not an opportunity for changing policy.
The residents who accept this unequal relationship between patron and client
constitute the basis of the broker’s legitimacy. This relationship accepts a dominating
network in which the broker monopolizes resources and creates a situation of
dependency. Yet Auyero points out that this relationship is fragile because brokers have a
limited capacity to deliver favors. Even the slum’s most powerful broker can only retain
around 100 close followers out of a voting population of 7,000 due to several constraints.
First, close patron-client bonds entail personal interaction and therefore a time
commitment. Second, brokers do not have an unlimited supply of patronage resources
and can only distribute them to a finite number of individuals. Third, the supply of favors
is contingent upon the broker’s patron at a higher level, in this case the mayor. Although
Auyero is not dismissive of the importance of clientelism, he asserts that it is not all-
powerful. Clients provide a core base of support and can be vital in internal party politics.
Yet the small fraction of the population that actively benefits from clientelism does not
explain the single-party and single-faction dominance usually associated with clientelism.
Auyero concludes that the current knowledge of clientelism is still underdeveloped in a
few areas. Insufficient research has been conducted upon the role of these networks in
generating Peronist identity, mobilizing voters for elections, and explaining the
conceptual and behavioral frameworks of individuals involved in clientelistic networks.
22. Valeria Brusco, Marcelo Nazareno, and Susan C. Stokes, “Vote Buying In
Argentina,” Latin American Research Review 39, no. 2 (2004), pp. 66–88.
Argentine politicians often buy votes by distributing cash and minor consumption
goods in exchange for electoral support. Yet, despite the extensive scholarship on
Argentine clientelism, some important questions about the practice remain unanswered:
how widespread is vote buying? How much does it influence elections? Why is it
effective when voting is anonymous? Who sells their vote? Valeria Brusco, Marcelo
Nazareno, and Susan C. Stokes conducted a survey in three Argentine provinces in order
to better understand the dynamics of Argentine vote buying. Distributing handouts
appears to be a fairly effective electoral strategy that reaches a significant minority of the
Argentine population, although most Argentineans say they focus on parties’
programmatic appeals when voting. The citizens most susceptible to vote buying are
young, poor, Peronist sympathizers; as Peronism has shifted towards neoliberal policies
that hurt poor voters, it has resorted to clientelism to preserve their loyalty. Although
parties cannot directly observe citizens’ voting behavior, they can effectively monitor
proxies for voting behavior in order to efficiently target handouts. Voters therefore face
“probabilistic selective incentives” that make opposing a political machine dangerous,
although electoral reforms that make vote monitoring more difficult can impede
Vote buying seems to be a common but not pervasive feature of Argentine politics.
Forty-four percent of Argentinean respondents reported vote buying in their
neighborhoods, thirty-three percent of respondents could name what handouts were being
distributed and by what parties, and thirty-three percent of respondents stated that they
would turn to a party operative for help if they lost their job. However, only seven
percent of respondents acknowledged receiving handouts themselves, and less than two
percent acknowledged both that they had received a handout and that it influenced them.
Vote buying was notably more frequent among the poor and among Peronists: eighteen
percent of poor Peronists acknowledged receiving a handout and five percent claimed
that it influenced their vote. The average female Peronist sympathizer has a 58 percent
probability of receiving a handout, while an identical supporter of the Radical Civic
Union (Argentina’s other major party) only has a 37 percent likelihood of receiving such
a handout. Handouts influence votes, particularly for the Peronists: an average woman
sympathetic to the Peronists voted for the Eduardo Duhalde (the Peronist presidential
candidate in 1999) with a 49 percent probability if she did not receive a handout and a 66
percent probability if she did.
Among Peronist sympathizers, young voters are more likely to embrace clientelism.
This trend suggests that the Peronists’ adoption of neoliberal economic policies under
President Carlos Menem made the party and its constituents more dependent on
clientelism. Although the party’s shift away from policies that support the working class
“might have been expected to reduce the party’s support among its traditional low
income constituents...the party stanched this potential outflow by offering small,
personalized material rewards” (pg. 73–74). Older Peronists, who retain an ideological
loyalty to the party, are less likely to receive handouts and less willing to utilize party
brokers than their younger peers. Among supporters of the Radical Civic Union, which
draws support from a middle-class constituency, there is no association between age and
clientelism; it is likely that young Peronists are uniquely more clientelistic because they
have been singularly hurt by neoliberalism before developing firm political loyalties.
Parties are unlikely to distribute handouts unless these handouts translate into
electoral support. Because Argentineans vote using a secret ballot, parties depend on
indirect mechanisms to ensure that citizens vote for the party that gives them handouts.
Party operatives can gather information about voters that allows parties to make good
(albeit imperfect) inferences about individuals’ voting behavior. Although some
individuals may betray the party undetected and others may remain loyal but be falsely
punished, voters have a “probabilistic selective incentive” to vote for the party because
they are more likely to receive handouts if they do not betray it. The Peronist party,
which is more “intimately involved in the social networks of voters” (pg. 79) than other
parties, is more likely to buy votes because it can monitor whether individuals attend
rallies, use party-supplied transportation, and seem honest when claiming to support the
Peronists. Likewise, vote buying is more prevalent in small communities where people
know each other. Finally, because the Argentine electoral system uses ballots printed by
parties, parties can distribute ballots in advance alongside handouts. Voters who use
ballots distributed in advance are poorer and more sympathetic to Peronists and are more
likely to receive and be influenced by handouts.
There is little evidence that other enforcement mechanisms play a major role in
preventing defection. First, if parties rely on norms of reciprocity to “enforce the
clientelist bargain” (pg. 77) then vote sellers should be more likely to endorse these
norms. Yet Argentineans who actually received handouts were less likely than others to
claim that handouts create a sense of obligation: they knew that “being treated as a client
powerfully eroded” (pg. 82) a sense of reciprocal obligation. Overall, ninety percent of
voters indicated that receiving handouts should not create a sense of obligation, although
more believed that it did. Second, if vote sellers are indifferent to policy pledges because
they are skeptical about politicians’ credibility and discount future rewards, vote sellers
should be more likely than other voters to make decisions based on retrospective
evaluations of performance instead of prospective evaluations of policy platforms. There
is no empirical evidence that this is the case.
Clientelism appears to be a significant—but not dominant—feature of Argentine
politics. Most voters do not “experience elections as showers of petty gifts from political
parties” (pg. 83). Instead, they focus on parties’ programmatic appeals. However, the
discrepancy between the voting behavior of rich and poor voters is alarming. Democracy
cannot meaningfully promote equality and participation if the poor voters most hurt by
neoliberalism cannot use elections to articulate their needs and values. When parties
depend on clientelism, they have an incentive to keep their constituents poor and
dependent. Yet electoral reforms have the potential to curb clientelism. Although
Argentina has some prohibitions on distributing goods before elections, these laws could
be expanded and better enforced. Because parties’ distribution of ballots appears to
encourage clientelism, the country could introduce a ballot distributed by a neutral
election authority. In combination, these reforms should encourage programmatic
competition, democratic equality, and good governance.
23. Ernesto Calvo and Maria Victoria Murillo, “Who Delivers? Partisan Clients in
the Argentine Electoral Market,” American Journal of Political Science 48, no.
4 (October 2004), pp. 742–757.
Some parties in clientelistic political systems utilize patronage more extensively than
others. Using evidence from Argentina, Ernesto Calvo and Maria Victoria Murillo show
that parties within one political system possess differing supplies of and demands for
patronage jobs. Parties’ access to patronage varies with institutional rules that influence
their access to public funds: given more financial resources, parties are more capable of
expanding government and offering jobs to supporters. Some parties, however, can use
the same amount of patronage more effectively than others. Parties that enjoy support
from lower-class, lower-skilled workers can distribute relatively low-paying patronage
jobs to a greater number of followers than parties whose followers demand high-paying
patronage jobs. In Argentina, the Peronist Party (PJ) employs more patronage than its
rival, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), both because of rules that bias elections and fiscal
transfers in favor of the PJ and its stronghold districts (supply factors) and a low-income
electoral base that makes patronage efficient and allows it to pay supporters a higher
premium over private-sector wages (demand factors). By hiring a large number of
unskilled workers and paying them above the private sector rate, the PJ uses patronage to
exploit institutional biases and increase its own power.
Argentine politics at the national level have been highly competitive since 1983, but
the PJ enjoys significant advantages in subnational elections due to fiscal and electoral
rules. Both the Radicals and the Peronists have controlled the presidency twice, but the
Peronists consistently control the majority of governorships and the Lower House, have
always controlled the Senate, and enjoy more stable governing coalitions when in office.
The Argentine electoral system is “characterized by a majoritarian bias that benefits
winning parties in the less-populated provinces” (pg. 747) where the Peronists are strong.
In these scarcely populated provinces, a third of the country’s population controls 48
percent of its lower house seats and four percent of its population controls 25 percent of
its upper house seats. Through its dominance of the legislature and statehouses, the PJ has
control over extensive government resources that it can use for patronage. Furthermore,
provinces controlled by the PJ enjoy a greater share of federal revenue sharing and
federally financed expenditures. Even after controlling for income, population, and
electoral overrepresentation, a ten percent increase in the Peronists’ vote share is
associated with a three percent increase in the percentage of federally financed
expenditures and a four percent increase in revenue sharing, even when legislative
malapportionment is taken into account. In short, the rules of the game give the Peronists
a greater supply of patronage than their rivals.
The PJ is well-positioned to take advantage of these institutional biases because its
constituent base allows it to effectively distribute state resources through job-based
patronage. The PJ has historically enjoyed support from uneducated urban workers and
rural political bosses, who are more dependent on public support than the UCR’s base of
relatively educated urban middle classes. The two parties obtain different electoral
returns from identical strategies. Because they have different constituent bases, increasing
public employment raises support for PJ incumbents but not UCR incumbents. As a
result, the two parties prefer different strategies for setting the quantities and wages of
public employees. The Peronists, in order to appeal to their constituencies, prefer to hire a
large number of cheap unskilled workers but pay them a premium over the wages they
would receive in the private sector: on average, Peronist provinces pay $704 in wages
with a $171 premium over the private sector, while non-Peronist provinces pay an
average of $860 in wages with a $153 premium. Peronists pay the highest premium to
workers with five years of education, while non-Peronists pay the highest premium to
workers with eight to nine years of education. Facing budget constraints, this allows
Peronists to offer more patronage to a greater number of supporters. Higher government
wages are statistically correlated with fewer government employees, as the government
must employ fewer workers if these workers are higher-paid, and Peronist strength is
correlated with high wage premiums.
The distributive effects of patronage have a partisan bias. In Argentina, the PJ
benefits from the biases of both supply and demand, and therefore engages in far more
patronage than the UCR. However, patterns of patronage may change as institutional
shocks alter economic configuration and institutional rules. In other countries, the parties
that benefit from patronage may differ. Although the PJ is a labor party that uses
patronage as a complement to welfare, conservative parties may utilize patronage as a
substitute for formal welfare. The independent effects of supply and demand may also
benefit opposing parties instead of both benefitting the same party. The role of
partisanship in determining patronage should not be ignored. The relationship between
patron and client is conditioned by outside structural influences that influence parties’
abilities to effectively implement clientelism.

24. Daniel J. Epstein, “Clientelism versus Ideology: Problems of Party Development

in Brazil,” Party Politics 15, no. 3 (May 2009), pp. 335–355.
Political parties may adopt several strategies for connecting with voters. Parties may
choose ideological, clientelistic, or personalistic approaches, depending on the
characteristics of party supporters and politicians and the organizational resources
available to parties. The strategies parties adopt, in turn, influence how parties represent
constituents and affect the composition of a government and the policies it adopts.
According to Daniel J. Epstein, party systems that make frequent use of clientelistic links
with voters are dangerous to democracy because they contain few structural incentives
for stable competition and make it difficult for citizens to translate their political beliefs
to the ballot. When parties do not have ideological bonds with voters and politicians, the
only real distinction between candidates is whether they can provide supporters with
material benefits. In Brazilian states dominated by clientelistic parties, party systems are
likely to be unstable over time, to be dominated by a single hegemonic party, or to be
fragmented into tiny parties without clear ideological distinctions. These party systems do
not give voters a manageable choice between distinctive parties and therefore cannot
ensure a government representative of public opinion.
Since party labels provide useful information about candidates, political parties help
voters represent their preferences because. Parties must meet three preconditions in order
to inform voters effectively. First, they must have a measure of continuity by regularly
contesting elections. Second, they must be distinguishable as a major party, rather than
“just another among a profusion of tiny, futile parties” (pg. 338). Third, they must be
identifiable with clearly articulated goals and membership. Brazilian party organizations
at the state level, which are powerful and highly autonomous from national organizations,
often fail to meet these prerequisites for providing easy, distinct, and meaningful choices
on the ballot. Epstein classifies these failures along two dimensions: failure of
concentration (too many parties) and failure of stability (frequently changing parties).
The two dimensions converge to create a fourfold typology of party systems in Brazilian
states that demonstrates the weakness of subnational liberal democracy across much of
the country. States like Rondônia, Roraima, and Paranâ demonstrate a pattern of
“unstable competitive” parties where “only a few parties win seats, but the set of major
competitive parties changes from election to election” (pg. 342), which diminishes
parties’ credibility. Other states, such as Rio de Janeiro, have “fragmented” party systems
with many small, indistinct parties that make it difficult for voters to coalesce around a
single opposition figure. “Hegemonic” party systems, such as those exiting in the state of
Bahia, where a single party dominates competition by controlling state resources,
concentrate power so absolutely that they constitute “a threat to the very concept of
democratic choice” (pg. 341). Only a handful of states—Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do
Sul, Rio Grande do Norte, Piauí, and to some extent Goiâs—demonstrate the “stable
competitive” party systems conducive to good governance.
The diversity of party systems across Brazilian states can be explained by parties’ use
of clientelism to connect with constituents. In light of the weaknesses of other
explanations, Epstein suggests that instability is more likely when more parties employ
clientelism. When parties do not employ clientelism, support “will coalesce around a few
ideological viewpoints” (pg. 349), each represented by a party. The combination of
internal ideological bonds and the difficulty of establishing splinter parties creates the
ideal stable competitive party system. If some parties are able to make ideological
appeals while others utilize patronage, however, voting may be split between many
parties to create a fragmented party system where party labels are not meaningful enough
to help voters make informed decisions. If ideological parties are entirely absent, the
number of parties will fall, but any change in the resources available to parties can
determine which parties can compete to buy loyalty, creating an unstable competitive
system where power shifts frequently and a changing set of a few parties at a time are
politically powerful. If one party can monopolize resources and deploy them as
patronage, it can establish a hegemonic party system in which its rivals, minor
ideological parties, cannot break the dominant party’s hold. This is likely to occur in
provinces where there are few private sources of wealth that can challenge a party that
controls state resources.
Although there is no direct way to test the relationship between clientelism and party
system, tentative evidence supports Epstein’s hypothesis. In the absence of direct
statistics on clientelism, he suggests that voting patterns in Brazil’s open list electoral
system can be used as a proxy for clientelism. First, candidates from a programmatic
party all represent and campaign on the same ideology, so voters should care only
marginally about which candidate from a given party to vote for. As such, the party’s
candidates should all receive similar numbers of votes. In contrast, parties that “depend
on a few clientelistic candidates to sweep a large slate into office” (pg. 350) will have a
high degree of variance between the least and most popular candidates. Statistical
analysis shows that unstable competitive systems have higher variance—more clientelism
—than stable competitive systems, although the significance of the results in weak and
fragmented systems—contrary to Epstein’s argument—demonstrate greater variance than
unstable competitive systems. Second, clientelistic parties are likely to see a higher rate
of defection by political candidates. Stable competitive systems saw the least party
switching followed by hegemonic, fragmented, and unstable competitive systems,
respectively. The confidence levels of the statistical analysis are again weak, possibly as
a result of an outlier and the small sample size (because of the time involved in coding
defections, Epstein only analyzes 12 of Brazil’s 29 states). However, the results do
suggest a tentative relationship between clientelism and party system fragmentation.
In short, limited evidence suggests that clientelism creates ineffective parties that are
either too weakly institutionalized or too deeply intertwined with government. Epstein
calls for further research into the relationship between clientelism and party organization
that can give greater statistical weight to his claims and augment them with qualitative
understanding: collecting full datasets for all the Brazilian states, finding improved
measures of clientelism like corruption surveys or pork-barrel spending, and conducting
field research to confirm the mechanisms behind statistical patterns to validate the link
between clientelism and problematic party systems. This research can help shed light on
the mechanisms by which clientelism relates to democracy—not only does it directly
interfere with good governance by diminishing policy accountability and removing the
incentives to vote one’s conscience, it indirectly interferes with the operation of
democracy by making it difficult to translate frustration with the ruling power into
effective opposition.

25. Jonathan Fox, “The Difficult Transition from Clientelism to Citizenship:

Lessons from Mexico,” World Politics 46, no. 2 (January 1994), pp. 151–184.
Although free and fair elections are a necessary condition for democracy, most
contemporary scholars recognize that they are not a sufficient condition. Jonathan Fox
argues that another vital component of democracy is the development of an autonomous
civil society capable of articulating interests, which may precede free and fair elections.
As such, “there is more to democratization than the transition to elections” (pg. 151).
Democratization entails the transition from authoritarian “clientelism,” defined as a
relationship in which people must demonstrate political subservience in exchange for
benefits from the state, to pluralistic “citizenship,” in which people receive both political
autonomy and state benefits. Examining Mexico, Fox considers how semi-democratic
and authoritarian regimes begin to recognize individuals’ rights to political autonomy.
The article begins by developing an analytical framework for classifying the
relationship between the state and the individual and understanding what causes this
relationship to change. Fox argues that economic and social modernization is not
sufficient to explain this relationship: the erosion of traditional social structures has led
both to more pluralistic and open social structures and to more violent or sophisticated
authoritarian structures (as in rural Brazil, Colombia, and the Philippines in the 1980s).
Nor does associational autonomy emerge automatically with the introduction of elections.
Instead “the right to associational autonomy is politically constructed through iterative
cycles of conflict” (pg. 156) between conservative authoritarian elites, reformist elites,
and social groups struggling for autonomy following a legitimacy crisis that fractures
Three relationships between state and society emerge from this bargaining. Following
the bargaining, “redoubts of persistent clientelism can coexist with new enclaves of
pluralist tolerance, as well as with large gray areas of ‘semiclientelism’ in between” (pg.
157). Semiclientelism is analytically distinct from both pluralism and clientelism because
elites demand political subservience in exchange for states benefits (unlike pluralism) but
have little or no ability to detect and punish people who refuse to be politically
subservient (unlike clientelism). For example, clientelism could involve officials
monitoring ballot boxes and threatening individuals who do not vote for them, while
semi-clientelism would involve providing “gifts” in exchange for unverifiable support in
an election with secret balloting. All three relationships can coexist at the same time in
the same country, because the outcome of bargaining often depends on the attitudes of
local elites and the strength of local civil society.
To illustrate the change in state/society relations, Fox describes changes in access to
state material resources by the rural, largely indigenous, poor in Mexico. Traditionally,
social groups were required to submit to the state in exchange for corporatist access to
patronage. However, after the state’s repression of student protests triggered a legitimacy
crisis in 1968, reformers introduced a succession of three rural development programs
that bypassed the traditional state apparatus, targeted patronage specifically to the poor,
and triggered a change in the traditional clientelistic relationship. Mexico first attempted
to target the rural poor directly, rather than through local patrons, with the Program for
Rural Development Investments (PIDER) in 1973. In practice, PIDER benefits were
often captured by local elites who utilized benefits for political gain, leading to a second
round of reforms that focused on the village food store program. The program, which
attempted to weaken monopolies over basic food products in rural areas, brought together
local delegates to form community food councils that were regional in scope. Although
often captured by local elites, these councils nonetheless “generated an organized,
relatively autonomous constituency” (pg. 164) with some capability to demand continued
state support and protest corruption and incompetence in government. They “became a
new, two-way bridge between state and societal actors” (pg. 165). In both programs, the
actual relationship between individual and society was not uniform across Mexico—it
depended on the attitudes of local elites implementing programs and yielded a patchwork
of clientelism and semi-clientelism.
Following another legitimacy crisis—an unexpected electoral challenge in 1988—the
ruling PRI moved to strengthen political support by reforming social spending. It
consolidated programs into a National Solidarity Program that decentralized authority to
local governments and “solidarity committees” in a partnership between state and society.
Solidarity was an attempt to build clientelistic political support for the PRI—funds were
targeted to areas where the party faced serious challenges and diverted from areas where
PRI authorities were accused of election fraud—but it also accepted a systematic role for
social groups. Fox focuses on the National Indigenous Institute (INI), which was
responsible for economic development among native populations and administered the
most innovative and participatory Solidarity programs under a mandate of
“strengthening…indigenous organizations, increasing their autonomy and their capacity
for representation and management” (pg. 171). Fox found that between a quarter and a
third of the Regional Solidarity Funds were under the pluralistic control of autonomous
locals, a similar number were controlled by clientelist political bosses, and the plurality
were under continuing control of INI staff. Solidarity funds “simultaneously pressured
reformists to encourage the legitimacy of pluralism, created an incentive for them to use
the programs as a semi-clientelistic mechanism to discourage electoral opposition, and
provoked an authoritarian backlash from clientelistic machine politicians” (pg. 179). As
such, the program created a diverse set of arrangements between state and society.
Fox concludes the article by assessing the relationship between the electoral and
nonelectoral realms of democracy and finds that “it is difficult to generalize about how
national political change interacts with the process of extending effective citizenship
rights” (pg. 180), but that democratic transition are more multifaceted than commonly
conceived. Antipoverty programs similar to Solidarity have varying effects on democracy
depending on their degree of political conditionality—they have reinforced
authoritarianism in El Salvador and Senegal but promoted democracy in Bolivia, Chile,
and Zambia. Electoral competition can strengthen citizenship rights by giving social
groups greater bargaining power, but it can also strengthen clientelism by increasing the
incentive for fraud and violence to retain power. Clientelist enclaves in an electoral
democracy can provide the marginal votes to alter election outcomes and inhibit the
transition to true liberal democracy. As such, Fox concludes, “the conventional notion of
political democratization as a single regime transition should be recast as asset of
transitions” (pg. 184), including the transition from clientelism to citizenship.
26. Ezequiel Gonzalez-Ocantos, Chad Kiewiet de Jone, Carlos Melendez, Javier
Osorio, and David W. Nickerson, “Vote Buying and Social Desirability Bias:
Experimental Evidence from Nicaragua,” paper presented at conference on
“Redistribution, Public Goods, & Political Market Failure,” April 9–10, 2010,
Yale University.
Qualitative studies of vote buying usually find that it is pervasive in developing
societies, but quantitative surveys find only very limited levels of vote buying. This
discrepancy is the result of the social desirability bias: because selling votes contradicts
democratic norms, indicates poverty, and is often illegal, survey respondents who sell
their vote are likely to deny doing so. To measure the true extent of vote buying and the
magnitude of the social desirability bias, Gonzalez-Ocantos et al. conducted an
unobtrusive list experiment survey of Nicaraguan municipal elections. In addition to
asking respondents whether they had sold their vote or seen neighbors doing so, the
authors presented respondents with a list of campaign tactics and asked how many tactics
they had been targeted with over the course of the campaign. The list of tactics presented
to the experimental group included vote buying and four other possibilities, while the list
presented to the control group only included the four other possibilities. By comparing
the average numbers of tactics reported by the control and experimental groups, the
authors were able to more accurately calculate how many people received electoral gifts.
Although twenty-four percent of voters were offered a gift in exchange for their vote,
only two percent of voters reported this behavior when asked directly. Even when
respondents were asked about vote buying by others in their neighborhoods, which
provides a relatively accurate picture of how extensive clientelism is, the social
desirability bias can distort scholars’ understanding of the practice. While most research
finds that vote buying is particularly pervasive among the poor and uneducated, the list
experiment found that vote buying occurs equally across parties and socioeconomic strata
in Nicaragua.
The authors are interested in measuring three characteristics of vote buying: how
widespread it is, who participates in it, and how accurately other surveys measure it. To
do so, they conducted a list experiment survey immediately following the 2008 municipal
elections in Nicaragua. They divided their survey sample (1,008 people) into control and
experimental groups. Respondents in each group were asked to count the number of ways
candidates had courted their vote: putting up signs or posters, visiting their homes,
advertising on radio and television, and threatening them. The experimental group was
also asked about the use of a fifth campaign tactic: gifts or favors to potential voters.
Because respondents did not have to divulge whether or not they had accepted gifts or
favors—only how many tactics they had been targeted with—there was less social
pressure to deny vote buying. However, the authors are able to estimate the amount of
vote buying in the group by comparing the average number of tactics reported by the
control and experimental groups. For example, if respondents in the control group
reported an average of 2 tactics and respondents in the experimental group reported an
average of 2.5 tactics, the most plausible explanation is that half of all respondents in the
experimental group witnessed the additional tactic of vote buying. To measure the
prevalence of vote buying across subgroups, the authors asked about respondents’
demographic characteristics, beliefs about vote monitoring, and political participation.
Finally, to compare list experiments with other survey methods, the survey directly asked
respondents whether they had received gifts or favors in exchange for their vote and
whether others in their neighborhood had done the same.
The list experiment estimates that 24 percent of voters received gifts or favors during
the election, although only 2.4 percent of voters directly acknowledged receiving a gift.
Vote buying extended equally across all social groups. Independents and supporters of
both major parties all received patronage, and the rich and educated were targeted as
much as the poor and uneducated. Gonazlez-Ocantos et al. speculate that this could be
due to several factors: peculiar characteristics of the Nicaraguan political system, low-
turnout municipal elections, the fact that Nicaragua is poorer than many of the other
states in which clientelism has been studied, or the survey’s income classifications were
too coarse. Vote buying was, however, strongly associated with two voter characteristics:
beliefs about ballot secrecy and participation in local political institutions. Among voters
who believed their votes were confidential, only 6 percent reported vote buying; among
voters who believed that parties could monitor ballots, that figure rose to 49 percent.
Among citizens who had attended a meeting of a Citizen Power Council (Consejo de
Poder Ciudadano, government-sponsored neighborhood organizations based on a model
created by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela), 48 percent reported vote buying, compared with
only 19 percent among those who had never attended a meeting. These councils likely
play a dual role: they are both a conduit for the clientelistic distribution of goods, and a
means of convincing voters that parties are capable of monitoring ballots.
Using a list experiment produces systematically different information on the
characteristics of vote buying targets than using direct questions. Although nearly 18
percent of respondents reported vote buying in their neighborhood—not significantly
different than the figure obtained through the list experiment—direct questions
systematically underestimated vote buying across subgroups, and failed to accurately
detect the characteristics of vote buying recipients. Only 53 percent of respondents who
reported vote buying in their neighborhood reported receiving a gift in the list
experiment, and 18 percent of respondents who did not report vote buying in their
neighborhood received a gift according to list experiment estimates. Supporters of the
conservative PLC party, wealthy voters, young voters, and men were more likely to
report vote buying in their neighborhood, although the list experiment indicates that
party, wealth, and demographic traits are not meaningfully associated with the practice.
Respondents who directly reported receiving gifts themselves were excessively likely to
be supporters of the liberal FSLN (the Sandanistas). People who believe that parties can
monitor ballots were less likely to directly report receiving gifts, but more likely to report
vote buying in their neighborhood. Neither direct approach detects the role of the Citizen
Power Councils. The conventional survey measures of vote buying contradict each other,
while both appear to suffer from different distortions of the social desirability bias.
Although imperfect, the list experiment has clear advantages over more obtrusive
survey measures. List experiments mitigate the impact of social desirability bias, but are
unlikely to entirely eliminate it, as they may still skew the characteristics of gift
recipients somewhat and underestimate the magnitude of vote buying. Furthermore,
because list experiments cannot provide individual information about gift recipients, they
cannot be used to build regression models. However, the experiment still reveals both the
widespread extent and nondiscriminatory targeting of vote buying. The survey shows that
vote buying is widespread, that voters’ beliefs about ballot secrecy and their participation
in state-sponsored community groups are key mechanisms of clientelism in Nicaragua,
and that poor voters are more likely to be unaffected by the social desirability bias and
report vote buying, even though the phenomenon occurs equally across class and party
lines. These results point to several directions for future research. First, scholars should
examine the conditions that mitigate or exacerbate social desirability bias. Second,
scholars should give greater consideration to the mechanisms that parties use to distribute
gifts and monitor votes, such as the Citizen Power Councils: are parties actually capable
of monitoring ballots, do they monitor citizens’ general commitment to the party, or do
they persuade voters that parties are more powerful than they actually are? Third, and in
order to pursue the first two questions, scholars should conduct list experiments across a
broader range of political settings to examine what drives cross-national variation in vote
buying strategies and determine whether the Nicaraguan results apply to other cases.

27. Susan C. Stokes, “Perverse Accountability: A Formal Model of Machine Politics

with Evidence from Argentina,” American Political Science Review 99, no. 3
(August 2005), pp. 315–325.
Even the most powerful political machines have limited quantities of resources. In
order to preserve their own power, machines must deploy these resources in a strategic
manner to efficiently buy votes and discourage or defeat rivals. This entails targeting
patronage towards individuals whose votes can be bought easily and establishing a
system of “perverse accountability” to punish these individuals if they do not actually
vote for the machine. A combination of formal models and empirical evidence suggests
that perverse accountability is a critical element of clientelism. Formal models show that
when parties are able to monitor individuals’ actions, interact with voters repeatedly, and
reward supporters even when parties lose elections, parties can maintain perverse
accountability and maximize their electoral returns by targeting poor, weakly opposed
voters in communities where the parties are embedded in social networks. Evidence from
Argentina largely supports these conclusions: political machines tend to target
socioeconomically disadvantaged voters who are weakly supportive of the machines,
operate most effectively when they have party structures and community structures that
facilitate deep social penetration, and benefit from flawed electoral systems.
Stokes argues that trading gifts for votes is only an effective electoral strategy when
voters and machines interact with each other repeatedly and can punish each other based
on past behavior, satisfying three conditions. First, parties must have some chance of
observing citizens’ voting behavior and partisan predispositions. In some cases, they may
do so by exploiting or violating electoral rules. In other cases, they may monitor votes by
penetrating social networks, particularly in geographically isolated and immobile
communities where these networks are dense. Local political operatives can predict
people’s political inclinations and behavior since many people have difficulty lying about
their voting behavior to neighbors and acquaintances, and because people’s “job,
associational membership, parents’ ideological inclinations, and public statements about
parties and policies” (pg. 317) provide good proxies. Second, voters and parties must
interact repeatedly over the foreseeable future. Parties that are not embedded in local
communities face difficulty buying votes, because citizens do not believe these parties
are credibly committed to providing benefits into the future. Finally, parties must be able
to continue providing benefits to their followers if they lose an election. Machines that
face active political competition can survive in opposition by utilizing private resources
from elites who expect future political concessions, or by relying on state resources that
carry over from the machine’s period of rule.
When these conditions are met, clientelism can be represented as a formal model
where machines and weakly opposed or indifferent voters have an incentive to trade
votes for rewards. When determining how to cast their votes, voters assess ideological
proximity to both parties (on a left-right scale) and the value of the reward offered by the
machine. Loyal voters prefer to support the machine even without a reward, and
opposition voters prefer to oppose the machine and lose the reward, so the machine has
little incentive to distribute patronage to either group. However, some voters only have a
weak ideological opposition to the machine. Although they would like to accept the
machine’s reward and then vote against it, they can be persuaded to vote for the machine.
By interviewing Argentine political brokers, Stokes found that machines often pursue a
“grim trigger” strategy: they initially offer rewards to all weakly opposed voters, but
permanently halt rewards to any voter who betrays the party once. If machines can detect
and punish betrayal, weakly opposed and indifferent voters may prefer to cooperate with
the machine and receive rewards for the indefinite future, rather than betray the machine
and benefit in the short term but risk losing all future rewards. These voters are more
likely to support the machine when the ideological distance between the parties is small
(voting for an ideologically opposed party is less distasteful), when the value of the
reward is relatively large compared with the value of ideology, and when the machine
can monitor voters with high accuracy. Among these voters, machines are likely to target
poor voters that place high value on relatively small sums of money.
In Argentina, the actual practices of political machines closely resemble the
predictions of the formal model. Empirical evidence confirms the importance of parties’
monitoring capacity, the critical role of poor voters, and the small role of ideologically
committed voters. Survey respondents were more likely to report receiving rewards when
they were poor, uneducated, and lacked high-quality housing: the probability that the
worst-off respondent would receive a reward was 13 percent, compared with 0.2 percent
for the best-off respondent. Institutions also mattered: the Peronist party, with a “tentacle-
like” (pg. 322) organizational structure that penetrates local social networks, bought far
more votes than its competitors. Respondents in small communities, where monitoring
votes is easy, were more likely to receive and respond to rewards. Voters who used
ballots distributed face-to-face by party operatives were more likely to receive and be
influenced by rewards than voters who used ballots collected anonymously in the voting
booth (Argentine voters seal ballots in envelopes while in the voting booth, but parties
print their own ballots and can distribute them before elections). Finally, ideologically
extreme voters who rated the Peronists as “very good” or “very bad” were less likely to
receive rewards than voters who rated them as “good” or “bad.” However, contrary to the
model’s prediction, nearly 60 percent of the Peronists’ reward recipients rated the
Peronists as good, although “even voters just mildly predisposed in the machines favor
would not be able to credibly threaten” (pg. 323) to vote for the opposition in the formal
model, and are therefore poor targets for rewards. This might be because some voters are
actually indifferent rather than mildly supportive, support the Peronists only because they
receive rewards, or are influenced by the machine’s proselytizing in areas where it
distributes rewards.
Machines use their social proximity to voters both to monitor voters’ behavior and
predispositions and to develop relationships with voters over time. As a result, patronage
is usually targeted towards poor and ideologically centrist voters and is more extensive
when parties are ideologically similar and can effectively monitor votes, and machines
are usually deeply integrated into communities. Political machines’ integration into social
networks also explains some features of clientelism that otherwise defy formal modeling.
Machines rarely compete with each other for the same constituents because they are not
integrated with the same network of constituents, and one party often prefers
programmatic to clientelistic linkages because it depends on a middle-class constituency
that is more difficult to monitor. Both formal and empirical evidence confirm that
machines’ ability to monitor voters is as critical to clientelism as machines’ ability to
deliver services: without this capability, clients have no reason to comply with the
bargain, and machines have no reason to deliver services at all.

28. Mariela Szwarcberg, “Who Monitors? Clientelism and Democratic

Representation in Argentine Municipalities,” paper presented at conference
on “Redistribution, Public Goods & Political Market Failures,” April 9–10,
2010, Yale University.
Clientelistic politicians expect to receive political support in exchange for providing
material benefits such as food, government jobs, and unemployment benefits to
constituents. This is an effective strategy for retaining support as long as the constituents
who receive the benefits actually support those politicians during elections. As such,
clientelistic politicians attempt to prevent the hazard of providing benefits to non-
supporters by monitoring constituents’ attendance at rallies, participation during
elections, and voting behavior. However, even in countries where clientelism is
widespread, some politicians do not monitor voters and therefore do not participate in
clientelism. Candidates choose whether to monitor votes and engage in clientelism based
on their dependence on clientelism for winning elections and their ability to track voting
behavior effectively.
Mariela Szwarcberg discusses the conditions under which politicians in Argentina are
likely to monitor votes. To this extent, she studies the practices of approximately 140
local politicians from selected municipalities in the Buenos Aires and Cordoba provinces,
using both interviews and archival research. Because secret balloting prevents politicians
from reliably tracking votes and mandatory voting in Argentina prevents politicians from
using election turnout as a meaningful indicator of support, Szwarcberg studies
candidates’ decisions whether to monitor constituent attendance at rallies. She
hypothesizes that politicians are more likely to monitor political behavior if they are paid
party activists (rather than unpaid activists or “top-down” candidates selected from the
national establishment), if they are members of the Peronist party (rather than the Radical
party or a third party), and if they work in large municipalities (where informal methods
cannot ensure clientelistic loyalty).
The statistical analysis of Szwarcberg’s data largely confirms her hypotheses. The
author uses interviews, personal observations, and archival research to classify whether
or not candidates had taken attendance at rallies and then constructed a logistic regression
model with vote monitoring as the dependent variable. She finds that, even in a political
system where clientelism is fairly widely accepted, only half of all candidates monitored
constituent attendance at rallies. Three factors were significant in explaining the
distinction between candidates who do and do not monitor votes: candidates’ political
backgrounds, their party membership, and the size of their districts.
Szwarcbeg distinguishes between three backgrounds that influence clientelistic
behavior: paid party activists who received salaries from the party to help residents with
their problems and mobilize them to vote, unpaid party activists who helped residents
with their problems but were not sanctioned or paid by the party, and well-known and
well-connected outsiders without grassroots experience who were invited to run for office
by party leadership. Candidates with backgrounds as paid party activists were the most
likely to monitor attendance, in part because these candidates maintain support “through
a flow of clientelistic inducements” (pg. 21), which requires vote monitoring to be
effective, and because they face pressure to turn out support in order to retain their
position. Unpaid district activists and elite-selected outsiders were less clientelistic: the
former because they have less access to patronage resources and face less pressure to turn
out support, the latter because they do not need to prove themselves to the party in order
to retain their position.
Although candidates’ political backgrounds had the largest impact on their decision to
monitor, candidates from small municipalities and minority parties were also
significantly less likely to monitor votes. Szwarcberg explains the role of municipality
size by noting that voters in small municipalities can be monitored informally, without
taking attendance. However, she does not explain the role of minority party status. Her
initial hypothesis was that the Peronist party would be more likely to monitor votes than
both the Radical party (the other major political party) and minority parties because the
Peronist party draws support from low-income voters and “party identification is
cemented by clientelistic political machines” (pg. 18). While the model does find that
minority parties were less likely to monitor attendance, it does not find a significant
difference in attendance monitoring between the Peronist and Radical parties.
Szwarcberg argues that the use of clientelism has been facilitated by the institutional
flexibility of Argentine parties. The politically successful Peronist party is a “big tent”
with candidates from a variety of social classes and ideologies, and Szwarcberg follows
Levitsky (2003) in claiming that institutional flexibility has benefited the party. However,
she notes that this flexibility also “strengthens existing informal incentives that
encourages candidates to use clientelism” (pg. 23), because there are no well-established
political career paths, decision and accountability rules, or connections between party
factions and sectors. Successful minority parties such as Partido Nuevo in Cordoba and
Nuevo Moron in Buenos Aires face difficulties in providing an alternative to large,
flexible, clientelistic parties. With a support base of middle-class and professional voters,
a relatively undeveloped grassroots network, and a platform that rejects traditional
clientelistic tactics, these parties are unable to employ clientelism. Instead, they must
prove that they can govern with more competence, transparency, and accountability than
the major parties, despite their lack of previous governing experience.
Rising minority parties and increasing levels of wealth and education can reduce or
eliminate clientelism. However, Szwarcberg argues that studying the operation of
clientelism permits “changes in the mechanisms that enable candidates to monitor voters”
(pg. 28) and can also reduce or eliminate clientelism. Combating clientelism improves the
quality of democracy—if voters make decisions based upon material inducements and
fear of retribution rather than support for candidates’ policy platforms, electoral and
policymaking outcomes will be distorted. In particular, clientelism can “silence the
voices of the most vulnerable voters” (pg. 28) who face greater material insecurity and
are more susceptible to clientelistic appeals. In doing so, clientelism not only undermines
good governance but threatens the very democratic legitimacy of a political system. As
such, further research into the ways parties monitor voters is imperative for promoting
fair, just, and legitimate governments.

29. Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro, “Choosing Clientelism: Political Competition, Poverty,

and Social Welfare Policy in Argentina,” paper presented at conference on
“Redistribution, Public Goods & Political Market Failure,” April 9–10, 2010,
Yale University.
Studies of clientelism have produced divergent findings on the relationship between
clientelism and political competition. Some scholars find that “clientelism might both
create and be a product of” (pg. 3) uncompetitive regimes, because it removes public
pressure for governing politicians to abandon the practice and gives them an unfair
electoral advantage. Others believe that, because clientelism is an effective means of
attracting support from targeted segments of the population, politicians are more likely to
distribute patronage when political competition increases the urgency of building popular
support. Rebecca Weitz-Shapiro, reconciling these two findings, argues that the
relationship between competition and clientelism is contingent on economic
development. Although clientelism is useful for attracting the support of poor voters, it
entails direct political costs because it is likely to reduce support from the middle class.
Studying the distribution of food aid in Argentine municipalities, she finds that, when
strong political competition is coupled with a low level of development and a small
middle class, politicians are likely to compete for votes using clientelistic strategies.
When strong political competition is coupled with a high level of development and a
strong middle class, however, clientelism is politically costly and politicians are unlikely
to resort to patronage. Without political competition, the relationship between clientelism
and development is more ambiguous and depends on other factors.
Clientelism carries political costs because it affects the voting behavior of many
voters who are not clients. While it is likely to increase support among poor, dependent
clients, clientelism is also likely to decrease support among financially independent
members of the middle class who have little use for clientelism and are ineligible for
clientelistic welfare schemes. Some political costs of clientelism are indirect, because
spending on patronage programs decreases the amount that could have been spent on
other items. Other costs are direct. Middle class voters depend on government services,
such as education and policing, and may “view clientelism as a negative signal of the
quality of government performance more generally” (pg. 4) and therefore vote against
clientelistic parties and politicians. Furthermore, middle class voters may be ideologically
opposed to clientelism, because they believe it undermines democracy and creates
dependence among the poor. These direct costs are applicable even if patronage goods
are not funded with tax receipts. When competition for votes is intense, politicians will
base their decisions about whether to use clientelism on the prevailing popular attitudes
about the practice—popular attitudes that depend on the economic composition of their
constituency. When competition is less intense, politicians are free to base their electoral
strategies on factors other than the economic composition of their constituency.
The interaction between competition and development is evident in Argentine
mayors’ decisions to involve themselves in food distribution programs. To assess this
relationship, Weitz-Shapiro studies the personal involvement of mayors in the
distribution of foodstuffs through the National Food Security Program (Programa
Nacional de Seguridad Alimentaria, or PNSA). The PNSA is a multifaceted program that
includes distributing dried goods and food staples to poor households and reaches 29
percent of the Argentine population in the cities surveyed. While the program is
nationally funded, municipalities are responsible for registering recipients, administering
funds, and distributing food with little federal oversight, which allows local politicians to
influence the program’s implementation. Clientelistic mayors are likely to insert
themselves into the program’s implementation by involving themselves in the addition
and removal of clients from the program’s beneficiary list. The mayor can “become the
public face of these benefits” (pg. 8) and tie the receipt of food aid to demonstrations of
political loyalty.
To examine the role of mayors in the implementation of PNSA, Weitz-Shapiro
surveyed the directors of social welfare offices of 120 cities in the Cordóba, Río Negro,
and Salta provinces. She asked the directors whether the mayor “participated,” was
“consulted,” (pg. 12) or was the ultimate decision maker in creating and updating
recipient lists and found that the mayor was at least somewhat involved in two-thirds of
the cities surveyed. In cities with a low level of political competition, the mayors of rich
and poor towns have a similar propensity for clientelism when other factors are held
equal. However, as political competition increases, the mayors of poor towns become far
more likely to create clientelistic linkages with voters. The interaction between poverty
(the proportion of households with unmet basic needs) and competition (the size of the
opposition in the local legislature) is both statistically significant and a powerful predictor
of mayors’ involvement in welfare rolls; without it, neither poverty nor competition is
significant in predicting clientelism. When legislative opposition is below 40 percent,
there is no statistically significant difference between the levels of clientelism in rich and
poor municipalities, and mayoral intervention is sometimes more likely in low-poverty
towns. However, when the opposition occupies at least 40 percent of the legislature,
mayors in high-poverty towns are significantly more likely to intervene in PNSA
beneficiary lists. When opposition legislators control 60 percent of the seats, mayors in
high poverty municipalities are about 40 percent more likely to intervene. Among the
other variables included in the model, only population is significant: larger municipalities
complicate vote monitoring and make clientelism more costly. The dominance of the
mayors’ party and the strength of local civil society are not significant, and the mayors’
affiliation with a Peronist party is only significant when variables for civil society are
The interaction between poverty and competition is not only a significant factor for
explaining clientelism, it is the dominant factor. Accurately assessing the electoral costs
and benefits of clientelism requires moving away from a narrow focus on poor clients to
examine the reactions of other groups—notably the middle class—to clientelism. As the
size and influence of the middle class increases, clientelism becomes a less appealing
electoral strategy under competitive pressure. In fact, when the interaction between
poverty and clientelism is taken into account, the often-vaunted role of partisanship in
Argentine clientelism is far from central. Unfortunately, this relationship also highlights a
difficulty for building good democratic governance: until a large middle class can
emerge, the intense electoral competition that is usually considered healthy for a
democracy may undermine strong, programmatic policymaking.
Middle East

30. Ellen Lust, “Competitive Clientelism in the Middle East,” Journal of Democracy
20, no. 3 (July 2009), pp. 122–135.
Although legislative elections sometimes bring about democratic transition, many
authoritarian regimes have conducted competitive legislative elections for decades
without jeopardizing their political power. These elections are a frequent occurrence in
Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) governments, including Egypt, Jordan,
Morocco, Kuwait, Syria, Algeria, and Palestine. Ellen Lust argues that the purpose of
elections in these governments is not to choose leaders or make policy, but to facilitate
“competitive clientelism:” competition over state resources that elected patrons can
distribute to clients. Because voters and candidates hostile to the government will not be
able to effectively access state resources, competitive clientelism is usually a
conservative force that reinforces the existing government.
The central purpose of the legislator in the authoritarian MENA states is to serve as a
wasta, or mediator, between the citizen and the state. In the absence of government
transparency and the rule of law, survey evidence shows that most individuals believe
that an intermediary is necessary to help them obtain benefits from the state: less than a
quarter of Algerians surveyed believed the best way to resolve a problem with the
government was to take it directly to the agency involved. The legislator is an ideal wasta
because he or she can resolve conflict and distribute state resources such as licenses, jobs,
housing, or higher education to loyal clients, and voters seek legislators who can and will
provide them with these benefits. In turn, the legislator receives personal access to state
resources as well as personal prestige and often spends significant resources on
campaigning. Because “citizens vote for wasta rather than this or that policy” (pg. 127),
however, clientelistic legislators are rarely challenged on the basis of their ideological
and programmatic attitudes. Without substantial policy platforms, political parties “tend
to be weak organization with little control over or support for their candidates” (pg. 127)
and are seen merely as “personalistic cliques” (pg. 131).
Competitive clientelism is generally a conservative force. Individuals who oppose the
existing government are rarely effective at extracting benefits from it, so they cannot
provide patronage and do not receive support. Voters from marginalized social groups are
unlikely to vote because they do not believe their legislator will provide them with
benefits, while voters from powerful social groups have an incentive to vote; likewise,
turnout is lower in (generally liberal) urban areas where interpersonal networks are
weaker that in rural (generally more conservative) areas. Elites who aspire to a seat in
parliament will continue to support the regime in the hope of one day winning office,
while genuine opposition figures are unlikely to even run for office, as doing so is
“ideologically distasteful and a poor investment” (pg. 129) for opposition figures because
it legitimizes the regimes, entails a costly campaign, and is unlikely to result in victory if
voters do not believe the candidate has wasta and is able to obtain state resources.
Under these circumstances, the prospects for authoritarian legislative elections to
cause meaningful democratization are small, although not nonexistent. Clientelistic
elections discredit and foster cynicism about democracy while supporting
authoritarianism by more efficiently distributing patronage by and coopting elites into
government. Authoritarian parliaments have few powers and are further weakened by a
high turnover rate, so they have little ability to affect change. However, elections may
still promote democratization if held in the face of political and economic crisis: if
legislators’ credibility is threatened because they lack political legitimacy or because
scarce resources inhibit their ability to deliver benefits to their clients, opposition
candidates may be able to seize control of the legislature. Strengthening electoral
procedures is not necessarily the most important component of democracy building
within authoritarian legislatures. Instead, Lust concludes that external groups should
apply pressure to increase the power of the legislature and should seek to diminish the
necessity of wasta via improved government accountability and economic development
in order to promote a programmatically-oriented legislative branch.

Postcommunist Europe and Eurasia

31. Klarita Gërxhani and Arthur Schram, “Clientelism and Polarized Voting:
Empirical Evidence,” Public Choice 141, no. 3–4 (December 2009), pp. 305–
Formal models of voting typically assume that voters chose candidates based on a
rational evaluation of their policies: if an incumbent government performs poorly, voters
are likely to reject that government in an election. However, these models do not consider
the role of clientelism in determining voter behavior. Klarita Gërxhani and Arthur
Schram build an alternative formal model of voting behavior in post-Communist Albania
that takes into account the strong clientelistic ties between the major political parties and
their regional bases of support. They then test the performance of this model against a
more conventional model. The results support their hypothesis that voters with a
clientelistic attachment to one party support that party regardless of its policy
performance, as they receive continued benefits from the party. The success of this
clientelistic voting model suggests that clientelism and other nationally-specific features
need to be better taken into account in models of voting behavior.
Gërxhani and Schram begin by examining the clientelistic nature of Albanian politics.
Following the Cold War, two major political parties emerged in Albania: the Democratic
Party of Albania (DPA) and the Socialist Party of Albania (SPA). The parties reflect a
strong cultural and linguistic cleavage between the north and the south of the country: the
DPA is tied to the north and the SPA to the south. Both parties are controlled by small
groups of political elites who retain popular support in part by patronizing their bases of
support and distributing material benefits there. As such, Gërxhani and Schram classify
the political system as a system of “clientelistic parties” based on Han Joachim Lauth’s
criteria: it involves free political participation via elections, competing patron-client
networks in the north and south, and patrons who come primarily from the political
establishment. They hypothesize that clientelistic voters in the north and south will not
react critically to poor policy performance of their supported parties, and will instead
remain loyal regardless of their party’s behavior.
More specifically, the authors argue that “when the DPA (SPA) is in office, voters in
the south (north) react negatively to economic swings, which they attribute to the
government” but that voters “in the north (south) have a strong alliance with the
governing DPA (SPA) irrespective of its economic policies” (pg. 308). This phenomenon
was demonstrated in the 1996, 1997, and 2001 elections. In central Albania, where
clientelism is weaker, the authors predict that voters will evaluate both parties’ economic
performance. The model makes a simplifying assumption that the north is populated
exclusively by DPA clients, the south exclusively by SPA clients, and the central region
exclusively by non-clients. Economic performance is represented by the unemployment
level in voters’ districts: previous studies have established that unemployment and
inflation are the economic indicators most consistently related to voting behavior, and
district-level inflation data was not available to the authors.
Gërxhani and Schram first model how the individual voter assesses the quality of a
political party and then consider how individual assessments aggregate in the form of
elections. Voters assess the challenging party with a two term utility function: they make
decisions based on a regional ideological predisposition towards one party common to all
voters in a region (north, south, or central) but separate from clientelism, and a random,
exponentially distributed individual disposition towards one candidate. The utility
function for the incumbent party is based on these two terms plus a third term that
represents the voter’s evaluation of economic performance (a challenger does not have
economic performance to evaluate). Most voters compare the actual rate of
unemployment in their district with a baseline level of unemployment that is considered
acceptable by all Albanians and base their evaluation of economic policy on this
comparison. Voters in the same district place the same importance on economic issues,
although this may vary between districts. However, in the clientelistic version of the
model, voters in a party’s base region do not consider economic performance of that
party. The relative success of either party depends on the proportion of voters in a district
who favor it over its opposition.
By comparing the predictions of both non-clientelistic and clientelistic variations of
the model with actual electoral outcomes, the authors are able to assess the importance of
clientelism. They find that the statistical function that models the success of a party more
accurately describes actual outcomes when voters’ reactions to unemployment are
allowed to vary by region—for example, when northern voters with a clientelistic
attachment to a DPA incumbent do not care about its economic performance but southern
and central voters do. The explanatory power of the model without regional polarization
is noticeably weaker at explaining voting behavior than the model with regional
polarization: the former explains at least 8 percent less variation in the data for each of
the three elections surveyed. A formal test of statistical significance rejects the “no
polarization” model in favor of the more sophisticated “clientelistic polarization” model.
Based on the greater success of a clientelistic model for voting, the authors find that
“a proper evaluation of democratization in Albania requires looking beyond elections per
se” (pg. 314) to consider informal political ties. They highlight two speculative reasons
for the importance of clientelism in Albania. First, the longstanding clan divisions
between north and south may fuel clientelistic attitudes towards the parties. Second, the
weakness of Albania’s formal governing institutions may encourage the growth of
clientelism: without strong institutions, candidates cannot credibly make strong
commitments to take enact meaningful policies and instead face an agency problem.
Because it is impossible to change the historic cleavage between north and south, the
authors conclude in summary that “only if formal institutions develop that may better
guide and control government policies may it be possible to break the centuries old
informal institution of clientelism” (pg. 315).

32. Henry Hale, “Correlates of Clientelism: Political Economy, Politicized Ethnicity,

and Post-Communist Transition,” in Patrons, Clients, and Policies: Patterns of
Democratic Accountability and Political Competition, ed. Herbert Kitschelt and
Steven I. Wilkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 227–
In the 1990s, elected regional leaders in Russia enjoyed immense political power. The
governors of Russia’s eighty-nine regions often perpetuated this power through their
control of political machines that rewarded supporters, punished opponents, and
marginalized challengers. They had “a highly complex series of levers with which they
could target powerful benefits and punishments to specific groups of people (and even to
key individuals) and could monitor these people’s loyalty” (pg. 228). Yet, at the same,
clientelism was not spread evenly throughout the regions; although a certain level of
clientelism was evident throughout the country, some regional governments were clearly
more clientelistic than others. To examine the “correlates of clientelism” throughout
Russia, Henry Hale analyzes the percentage of the vote obtained by governors’ preferred
candidates for the Duma (Russia’s lower house of Parliament) in 1999. His results
broadly conform with the predictions of Kitschelt and Wilkinson: clientelism is likely in
regions that are remote and agricultural, where political competition is low, where the
state can monitor and punish economic blocs of voters, and where ethnic networks are
politicized. The same patterns seem to appear in other countries that emerged from a style
of “patrimonial communism” similar to Russia’s.
Because they had leverage over key economic sectors and legal institutions, regional
political leaders (referred to here as “governors” although some have different titles) led
powerful political machines in the 1990s. They were also usually able to monitor the
behavior of voting blocs, which allowed them to effectively engage in contingent direct
exchange for votes. The power of Russia’s governors stemmed from Russian President
Boris Yeltsin’s decision to grant significant power and autonomy to regional leaders in
exchange for their support against his rival and superior, Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev. This autonomy allowed governors to develop machines as “party substitutes”
that maintained low public profiles, oriented themselves around the governor’s
personality and performance instead of a policy platform, and made little attempt at
permanent institutionalization. Because they eschew even a facade of programmatic
appeals and rational institutionalization, non-partisan machines can be an even more
extreme and pernicious form of clientelism than partisan machines.
Governors maintained their machines by monitoring, rewarding, and punishing
economic and ethnic blocs of voters. Governors were able to exert direct or indirect
control of key industries via shareholding, regulation, subsidization, and fiscal policy.
Enterprises that failed to deliver votes could expect to see their business suffer.
Furthermore, Russian legal culture allowed governors to selectively enforce laws such as
health and environmental standards and to pressure the police, tax police, prosecutor’s
office, and local courts. Machines used these sources of power to deny opposition
candidates publicity and to punish institutions and businesses that failed to mobilize
voters for them. In former collective farms, prisons, hospitals, and college towns, it was
easy to monitor support and reward or punish institutions accordingly because
institutions’ success in mobilizing voters could be assessed based on precinct-level
election returns from the areas where these institutions were located. Even in more
complex urban settings, machines could deploy campaign workers to monitor firms’
active and public support for the “correct” candidates. Finally, ethnic identity in Russia
had been highly politicized during Soviet rule. Governors of ethnic republics and
autonomous regions could depend on the support of their coethnics, even without
extensive monitoring.
Political machines were generally stronger and more successful in regions where
governors had more control of the economy, had access to politicized ethnic networks,
and benefitted from low development, high populations, and low competition. Governors
of these regions were able to utilize their machines to increase the vote share won by their
preferred Duma candidates in 1999—a measure of machine strength that avoids
tautologically associating low competition with an effective machine. Bosses who
belonged to the titular ethnic group of one of Russia’s ethnic republic regions reaped
significant clientelistic gains. Regions where the government exercised a high level of
control over the economy (the proportion of the population that received state pensions),
and managed the economy well (the reduction in wage arrears) also had stronger political
machines. Governors appear to have “negative coat-tails” (pg. 244) when they stand for
election. There is a probability that they will lose and be unable to fulfill promises and
threats, so clientelistic governors’ preferred candidates receive less support. Governors
who were able to effectively navigate political competition as the first speakers of
regional parliaments or who had experience in politicizing rural economies as the
directors of state or collective farms had particularly effective political machines. A
strong agricultural workforce and a long distance from Moscow—indicators of
underdevelopment—cause a rise in clientelism. Somewhat surprisingly, however, wealth
and population are both positively associated with effective political machines. Hale
speculates that, because even the wealthiest regions of Russia lack high enough income
levels to make clientelistic goods unappealing, higher per capita incomes provide more
resources for governments to distribute as patronage without raising opposition to
clientelism. Meanwhile, larger populations may give regions an advantage in bargaining
for federal funds that can be used to reward supporters.
The patterns of clientelism in post-Soviet Russia are likely to exist in some other post-
Soviet states. Although economic development may eventually erode clientelistic
linkages in the more advanced states of Central Europe and the Baltic states, the
developmental disparities between post-Soviet countries are not yet pronounced enough
to explain variations in clientelism. Hale believes that instead “the greatest divergence
among postcommunist countries in the shorter run is likely to involve variation in the
levels of political competitiveness and control over the political economy” (pg. 247).
Regimes characterized by a “patrimonial” style of communism with “vertical chains of
dependence, extensive patronage and clientelistic networks, personality cults, low
rational-bureaucratic institutionalization, and low tolerance for opposition” (pg. 247) tend
to have more powerful political machines than institutionalized but totalitarian
“bureaucratic-authoritarian” and relatively liberal “national-accommodative” regimes.
Following the transition from communism, patrimonial regimes tended to adopt
institutions that favored incumbents and embarked on less sweeping privatization and
economic liberalization: they have more politicized economies and less political
competition. As a result, Hale argues, they are more likely to have nonpartisan political
machines: all 12 postcommunist legislatures that contained independent members of
parliament had patrimonial regimes. In these countries, including Russia, patronage may
flow through nonpartisan political machines that act as “party substitutes” and eschew
any programmatic content. The patterns predicted by Kitschelt and Wilkinson—that
clientelism will occur when political competition and economic development are low,
state control of the economy is high, and ethnicity is politicized—generally hold true in
the postcommunist Russia of the 1990s, and they are likely to hold true in other
postcommunist countries that share the institutional legacy of patrimonial communism.