Clientelism and the Classification of Dominant Party Systems
Democratization, 2015, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp. 113-133
39 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2017
Date Written: November 14, 2013
The view of clientelism as an abuse of state power casts doubt on the democratic credentials of highly clientelistic political systems. The question is particularly relevant for the classification of dominant party systems that heavily rely on clientelism to elicit popular support and retain a relatively open structure of participation. Knowing that clientelism is a widespread practice in modern democracies too, how do we evaluate the impact of clientelism on political competitiveness in order to sort out the position of these regimes along the lines of democracy and authoritarianism? This task requires identifying the conditions under which clientelism becomes an essentially authoritarian practice and qualifies these regimes as such. The article puts forward two propositions about the circumstances under which clientelism infringes basic democratic standards under a thin and a thick definition of democracy. Clientelism under one-party monopoly engenders authoritarianism when it thwarts and punishes the contesting voice of citizens by effectively blocking exit from its incentives and sanctions.
Keywords: clientelism, dominant party systems, authoritarianism, patronage, democracy, semi-authoritarianism, hegemonic regimes, party politics, political competition
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation