Politics in Poor Places? Clientelism and Elections in Democracies
41 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 16, 2020
We review a decade of literature on clientelism, a central topic in the study of developing democracies. We define clientelism as the discretionary distribution of public resources by politicians. We distinguish clientelism that occurs in the pre-electoral period (electoral clientelism) from that which occurs between elections (welfare clientelism). We provide new cross-national evidence questioning whether clientelism is actually effective in the sense of securing reelection for the politicians who engage in it. We offer ideas to understand why politicians continue to practice it nonetheless. Finally, we suggest that clientelism evolves with economic development, assuming new forms in highly developed democracies but not disappearing.
Keywords: clientelism, patronage, economic development, elections
JEL Classification: D72, H41, O10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation