Clients and constituents (2019)
political responsiveness in patronage democracies
in: Modern South Asia
This text provides a theoretical and empirical examination of constituency service in developing countries. The predominant view of distributive politics in 'patronage democracies' emphasizes the partisan targeting of pork and clientelism. In contrast, this work demonstrates that high-level legislators in India and other contexts often provide direct, nonpartisan assistance to individual constituents. Under what conditions do they provide constituency service, rather than engage in partisan bias? The text shows that the uneven character of access to services at the local level - often because of biased allocation on the part of local intermediaries - generates demand for help from higher-level officials, and also creates incentives for those politicians to bypass intermediaries by providing direct assistance.