Sharing Is for Suckers: Tactical Distribution, Institutions, and Movement Politics in Bolivia
31 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2021
Date Written: December 14, 2020
Distributive politics studies have tended to focus on contexts with electoral- professional incumbents, a passive citizenry, and strong institutional enforcement. This, however, is not always the case. Focusing on the Movimiento al Socialismo government in Bolivia, this paper intends to bridge a gap in the literature by studying how unconstrained movement-parties allocate resources in highly organized settings. It is argued that when these factors are taken into account, an ‘indiscriminately safe’ pattern is likely to emerge: limited state capacity allows the incumbent to bypass rival mayors and renders alignment distortions unnecessary, while the interaction between movement-party’s coordination strategies and rent-seeking organizations yields a bias towards overperforming authorities. Studying the Evo Cumple and FDI development programs, quasi-experimental methods find no evidence of an alignment effect, while traditional regressions uncover a safe district bias. Lastly, two dozen interviews illustrate how a seemingly irrational pattern of distribution can be explained by taking institutions and organizations seriously.
Keywords: Bolivia, Alignment Effect, Movement-Parties, Development Programs, Distributive Politics, Institutional Weakness
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