The Role of Subnational Politicians in Distributive Politics: Political Bias in Venezuela's Land Reform under Chávez
Forthcoming, Comparative Political Studies
46 Pages Posted: 25 May 2011 Last revised: 11 Jul 2015
Date Written: June 23, 2015
This paper examines how the partisanship of empowered subnational politicians can impact within-district benefit distribution. I present a theory of the role of subnational politicians in distributive politics, and then test this theory on a distributive Venezuelan land reform initiative by leveraging unique individual-level data on revealed voter preferences and the receipt of particularistic benefits. Using data from a list of millions of voters that signed petitions to recall former President Chávez, I match information on recent land grant applicants to petition signers to measure how political preferences impact the likelihood of applying for and receiving land, and how state governors condition this relationship. I find evidence for both strategic core voter targeting and blockage of benefits to opposition voters. These effects, however, are modified by the political affiliation of governors. The findings point to the importance of considering how intervening subnational politicians influence distributive politics, particularly under federal structures.
Keywords: clientelism, vote buying, distributive politics, land reform, Venezuela
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