Political Accountability and Democracy
Herbert Kitschelt. "Democratic Accountability. Situating the Empirical Field of Research and Its Frontiers." 2011. Fulltext
Mapping Accountability Mechanisms
In recent years, there has been an increased interest in theorizing and empirical research concerning democratic accountability mechanisms such as programmatic appeals and clientelism, but a relative lack of readily comparable cross-national data. This paper addresses this empirical gap by first developing party and system-level indices of programmatic structuration based on a new global expert survey encompassing 88 polities. These indices are based on the cohesion, polarization and salience of positions taken by parties on different issues in each country. Second, the programmatic measures developed are subjected to various tests of construct validity through comparing the relationship with alternative programmatic measures from the survey, as well as exploring their relationship with economic development. Finally, the paper compares politicians’ efforts to project programmatic appeals with other appeals politicians may deploy to attract voters and establish relations of accountability, and suggests future avenues for the refinement of these measures.
Herbert Kitschelt. "Clientelistic Linkage Strategies. A Descriptive Exploration. Workshop on Democratic Accountability Strategies." 2011. Fulltext
The Survey on Political Accountability includes a single measure of charismatic party linkages, question e1. Here I validate the measure by considering the nature of the survey question (content validity), how well the resulting data agree with scholarly judgment (convergent validity), and whether the data correlate in predictable ways with causally related phenomena (construct validity). I find that the measure is a strong one, especially at the level of country averages. Party-level results show more measurement error, including both nonsystematic and systematic error, which suggests that analyses using the party-level data should try to incorporate as many of the observations as possible.
Correlates and Complementarities of Parties’ Accountability Mechanisms
This paper argues that party leaders’ ability and incentives to deploy clientelistic strategies will vary according to their respective parties’ organizational form. We argue theoretically, and find empirically, that parties whose primary means of connecting with voters at the local level is through delegation to non-affiliated local notables will be especially prone to clientelistic linkage. On the other hand, parties whose primary local presence is maintained via a dense network of local branch organizations staffed by party militants will be more prone to programmatic strategies. Finally, ties to civil society organizations of a non- encompassing variety tend to exert the expected positive influence and clientelist linkages, and this effect is particularly relevant when it comes to the effectiveness of such strategies. We look forward to further developing these preliminary results in future work.
In democratic elections, political parties and/or individual candidates offer citizens some mix of policy promises, material benefits, and symbolic cues, in exchange for which they hope to secure votes, labor, campaign contributions, etc. Define such exchange relations as democratic linkages, and define a political party’s chosen mix of exchange mechanisms as its linkage strategy. This paper’s central theoretical claim is that a political party’s organizational form will influence its ability to mitigate the distinct ‘contracting’ problems which accompany clientelist as opposed to programmatic linkage strategies. We operationalize and test our expectations as to the relationship between organizational form and linkage strategy with a newly emerging dataset on patterns of party organization and democratic accountability in 88 countries. On the whole, centralized organizations with ‘non-formalized’ local networks and financing practices are well-suited to the maintenance of clientelist contracts. In contrast, programmatic appeals tend to be best supported by decentralized organizations with extensive formal infrastructure, although the consequences of decentralization for programmatic effectiveness vary according to a party’s size.
Clientelistic politics is often seen as an uncertain transaction: a vote-seller is unable to insure that a vote-buyer will keep his side of the contract. Therefore, politicians are expected to exert effort in monitoring votes and thereby assuring voters’ compliance. While vote-monitoring is a key ingredient in theories of patronage politics, there is no systematic empirical analysis of this issue. We attempt to contribute to this literature on two fronts. First, we present a novel cross-national dataset on the variety of vote-monitoring methods. Second, using multivariate response models, we analyze the characteristics of parties that induce them to choose a particular profile of monitoring. We find that parties that have local intermediaries and ethnic, religious, or professional networks are both more clientelistic and exert more effort on vote-monitoring. Moreover, parties that use consumer goods to buy votes and parties that can sanction voters for reneging on their promises use direct methods of vote-monitoring (e.g., revolving ballot, cell-phone cameras) while parties which buy votes by offering preferential social policy use turnout-monitoring. Parties that use turnout-monitoring are the most successful in finding out how voters voted but, importantly, the only monitoring method that has a direct effect on efficiency of clientelism is direct monitoring. This finding suggests that direct vote-monitoring can be used not as much to find out voting decisions but to threaten and coerce voters with sanctions.
Both political experts and ordinary citizens perceive clientelist countries to have difficulties in controlling corruption. One possible mechanism linking the two outcomes is the more general relationship between clientelism and weak governance structures (a politicized bureaucracy and policy making process and weak rule of law). A second possible mechanism is that clientelism thrives when politicians can use corrupt dealings to generate the funds that political machines distribute. I find evidence for both mechanisms. Clientelist countries tend to have bad governance outcomes across the board, including lower levels of government effectiveness and a weaker rule of law. Clientelism is also associated with illegal fundraising by political parties. Finally, clientelism is also associated with the level of corruption experienced by businesses in their interactions with government officials who set policy and distribute contracts. However, it is not associated with the frequency government officials and policemen target citizens for bribes or corrupt exchanges with low-level officials (e.g. utility workers and tax collectors). The association of clientelism with grand corruption and not petty bribery suggests the linkage between clientelism and corruption may be driven more strongly by their linkage with fundraising than with their relationship to the rule of law.
Herbert Kitschelt. "Clientelism and Partisan Competition." 2012. Fulltext
This paper proposes a spatial model that combines both programmatic as well as clientelistic modes of vote-seeking. In the model political parties strategically choose: (1) their programmatic policy position, (2) the effort they devote to clientelism as opposed to the promotion of their programmatic position, and (3) the set of voters who are targeted to receive clientelistic benefits. I identify conditions under which the possibility for clientelistic appeals leads to infinite cycling between the competing linkage strategies; conditions under which parties compete on purely programmatic grounds and converge to the median voter’s ideal policy;; and conditions under which parties exert positive clientelistic effort. Among other findings, the model suggests that the relationship between clientelism and ideological polarization should be curvilinear: ideological moderation should accompany equilibria with both very high and very low levels of clientelistic effort, while ideological polarization should characterize equilibria at intermediate levels of clientelistic effort.
What "Causes" Politicians’ Choice of Linkage Strategies?
Herbert Kitschelt. "The Development Hypothesis in the Comparative Analysis of Linkage Profiles. Power and Limitations: The Need for a Political Economy Perspective." 2012 IDEA Project Report. Case Study
Herbert Kitschelt and Matthew Singer. "'Do Everything' (DoE) Parties: When Can Politicians Combine Clientelistic and Programmatic Appeals?" 2011. Fulltext
Do specific electoral systems and executive-legislative arrangements make it more likely that parties compete for votes by offering citizens the contingent provision of targeted, private and particularistic goods or the non-contingent production of large-scale club or collective goods? Based on an original dataset scoring parties' efforts to engage in clientelistic and/or programmatic linkage with citizens, the paper assesses a variety of institutional hypotheses. It finds that presidentialism and district magnitude moderately affect clientelistic partisan effort, as long as no regional geographical controls are deployed. The influence of institutions on parties‘ efforts to mobilize programmatic appeals is more elusive. Overall, the impact of democratic institutions cannot be discounted, but it is overwhelmed by socio-economic forces and the cumulative experience of citizens and politicians with democracy. A variety of research trajectories is identified to push the research agenda beyond this preliminary paper.
In this paper, we explore the relationship between ethnic group divisions and clientelism in competitive party systems. We find that engaging in this mode of partisan mobilization is more widespread in contexts characterized by higher number of politically relevant ethnic groups that are economically unequal and therefore expected to have different preferences. We then speculate about and explore the potential mechanisms behind this relationship and find that the effect of ethnicity on clientelism is at least partially due to politicians’ capabilities to sanction the voters, as well as their willingness and ability to circumvent campaign finance regulations. In addition, we present some evidence that when politicians make a greater clientelistic effort by providing targeted benefits and experts judge these efforts to produce indeed additional votes, there is a higher degree of ethnic mobilization, measured as voting along ethnic lines.
What "Consequences" are Associated with Profiles of Democratic Accountability Mechanisms?
This paper examines in greater detail the influence of ethnic heterogeneity on preferences for government-led redistribution of income. I find that ethnic heterogeneity does not always influence support for or against redistribution, even when large income differences may exist between ethnic groups. Instead, support for redistribution will only become a function of ethnic heterogeneity when there are incentives for parties to link the issue of redistribution with social identity. These incentives are more likely to arise when parties compete programmatically over the issue of redistribution. In order to remain electorally viable, right-wing parties must link redistribution with ethnic identities in order to prevent citizens from voting solely on the basis of individual pocketbook concerns. I find that it is generally in countries with highly programmatic linkages over redistribution where ethnic identity has an important effect on attitudes for redistribution.
A recent major question in the macro-political economic comparative literature trying to account for differential pathways of economic performance in political democracies concerns the extent to which clientelistic practices create harmful economic distortions and hurt economic development. Using new data from an expert survey on political accountability, this paper explores the effect of clientelism on various development outcomes in a cross-section of 90 democracies. We hypothesize that while clientelism has an overall negative effect on economic development, practices of clientelism can function as an effective mechanism to distribute private goods to poor parts of the population, improving human development outcomes for the weakest parts of society.
Using both a cross-national data set on parties’ accountability strategies and public opinion survey data, the paper sets forth a systematic analysis of how parties’ reliance on clientelistic strategies affects citizen evaluations of regime performance. The analysis distinguishes between-country and within-country effects of parties’ clientelistic efforts. The results suggest that citizens tend to show a lower level of satisfaction with democracy in countries where parties more heavily rely on clientelistic strategies. In addition, in countries where clientelism prevails, the political majority/minority gap in levels of satisfaction is larger. Within countries, supporters of parties that make substantial clientelistic efforts are more likely to evaluate the political system positively. The within-country positive effects of clientelism are strengthened if the clientelistic parties are large, have extensive external linkages, or in countries with lower democratic quality. Along with a preliminary analysis on citizens’ regime preferences and protest potential, the results suggest that citizens of clientelistic democracies are generally more cynical about democracy, but within countries, it is the non-supporters of clientelistic parties who are especially dissatisfied and have the highest protest potential.