Brokers, voters and clientelism
Stokes, Susan C.
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The book is about distributive politics. The received theories usually predict that parties and governmentswill spend scarce resources on responsive voters. And these responsive voters will be fence-sitters, people who might otherwise not turn out or vote for the party responsible for the distribution but who could be swayed by a favor or a program. Yet over and over again, the evidence seemed to tell us that not fence-sitters but firm party loyalists were the primary beneficiaries of the distributive game. Because we believed in the received theories, we discarded them only reluctantly. Like good Kuhnians, a few anomalies did not shift our paradigm. But eventually the weight of the anomalies was too much. Constructing an alternative theory was only one of the tasks we faced. Our new theory suggested new questions and new observational implications. Many parties can be decomposed into leaders and low-level operatives or brokers. If brokers play the distributive game by different rules than do their leaders, allocations of resources should come out differently when brokers are in control and when leaders are in control. (They do.) If brokers are imperfect agents of party leaders, antimachine reform movements, when they break out, may be driven as much by party leaders as by non-partisan reformers. (In several countries, they have been.) And if brokers are imperfect agents, it should be the case that they impose agency losses on parties and parties should devise elaborate techniques to monitor the brokers and minimize these losses. (We offer evidence that both are true.)