Constrained Accountability in Patronage Democracies
Chapter 12 addresses the broader implications of the book’s findings for our view of representative democracy in many parts of the world. It posits that the form of representation present in these contexts is characterized by “constrained accountability.” High-level politicians in patronage democracies are substantially more accountable to their individual constituents than posited in existing literature. However, this accountability remains limited, in multiple ways outlined in the chapter. In providing this form of limited accountability, constituency service also serves to support the functioning of democracy in patronage contexts. While the targeted nature of clientelist and partisan distribution excludes a large portion of voters from the significant resources of the state, constituency service by high-level politicians offers those same voters a potential resource for accessing benefits. This responsiveness makes the state’s resources available to a much wider swath of voters than would otherwise be the case and, in doing so, contributes to the functioning, and persistence, of patronage democracy.
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