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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - International Studies Quarterly
Title Peasants, Patrons, and Parties: The Tension between Clientelism and Democracy in Nepal
Volume 55
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 151-175
URL https://www3.nd.edu/~mjoshi2/ISQ-JOSHI-MASON-2011.pdf
In democratic elections, candidates and parties promise to deliver public goods to segments of
the electorate in order to win their support at the polls. In new democracies, especially in rural
agrarian societies, existing networks of clientelist politics can alter this logic, so that candidates
instead promise private goods to patrons in return for those rural patrons delivering the votes of
their clients. This suggests that in such regimes, the distribution of public goods spending by the
government should vary inversely with the strength of clientelist networks. Specifically, we
propose that the strength of patron-client ties varies according to whether peasants farm as
smallholders, sharecroppers, fixed rent tenants, or landless laborers. Accordingly, the strength of
rural patrons should vary across districts with the distribution of households among various land
tenure categories. Our theory then suggests that where land tenure patterns render rural patrons
weaker, elected governments should invest more resources in public goods in order to win the
votes of peasants. Where land tenure patterns give patrons more control over peasant farmers,
government spending on public goods should be lower because candidates and parties have to
devote more resources to private benefits to the patrons. We test this proposition with district
level data from Nepal on the patterns of land tenure and on the provision of public goods.

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