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Who Benefits from Clientelism

Institutions & Governance Senegal

Do voters or local brokers benefit from clientelism? In many emerging democracies, clientelism, or the exchange of particular rewards for voter support, is a dominant electoral strategy. Such a practice may spur accountability if it leads to patron politicians providing goods that client voters care about. This project evaluates whether and when clientelism yields accountability in the context of village-level voting patterns in Senegal. Exploiting the fact that parties monitor electoral support at the group level in Senegal, the study tests whether voters can use bloc voting as a strategy at the village level to garner subsequent political benefits—a form of accountability. Using a panel of village-level data on public goods provision in Senegal from 2000 and 2009 as well as electoral results from an intervening election, the project examines whether villages voting at high rates for a winning politician receive higher levels of local public goods as a result. Policymakers may be interested in reducing clientelism where it benefits brokers but not where it is engendering accountability for citizens.

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