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Clientelism and polarized voting: empirical evidence

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Arthur Schram.

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Open Access This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0), which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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Gërxhani, K., Schram, A. Clientelism and polarized voting: empirical evidence. Public Choice 141, 305 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-009-9453-8

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Keywords

  • Polarization
  • Clientelism
  • Electoral democracy
  • Vote functions