Public Choice

, 141:305 | Cite as

Clientelism and polarized voting: empirical evidence

  • Klarita Gërxhani
  • Arthur Schram
Open Access


One must take country-specific institutional features into account when analyzing former communist countries’ transformation process to new political institutions. We do so for post-communist Albania, where the regional and cultural polarization that has existed for centuries has evolved to clientelism in the new democracy. We show how clientelistic parties give rise to very particular voting patterns. These reveal major differences across regions not only in party choice but also in voters’ responses to government policies. These responses depend on the party in government and on the region concerned. This is in sharp contrast with results obtained when applying the same model to a large number of more advanced democracies with similar electoral institutions. A proper evaluation of democratization in Albania thus requires looking beyond the formal institutions governing elections and taking clientelism and its effect on voter behavior into account.


Polarization Clientelism Electoral democracy Vote functions 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies, Faculty of Economics and Econometrics, and Tinbergen InstituteUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Center for Research in Experimental Economics and Political Decision Making (CREED)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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