The Political Economy of Patrons, Brokers, and Voters
Formal models of political clientelism tend to focus on vote buying, the exchange of cash and goods for votes on election day. However, other components of the phenomenon, such as patronage, the exchange of public jobs and contracts for political support, are more important in order to understand the pervasive consequences of clientelism. We develop a game-theoretic model of patronage, in which candidates must decide between broker-mediated electoral strategies versus grassroots campaigns. Our model shows that patronage is more likely when public offices are relatively more valuable for brokers, a condition that is typical of institutional configurations that foster corruption. Moreover, setups that constrain candidates from funding grassroots campaigns and weaken ties between politicians and citizens make broker-mediated campaigns more likely. We show that patronage negatively affects citizens' welfare, as winning brokers end up being appointed to public office, undermining the quality of civil servants and public goods provision.