restricted access The Microfoundations of Political Clientelism: Lessons from the Argentine Case

This article challenges the assumption that parties and candidates with access to material benefits will always distribute goods to low-income voters in exchange for electoral support. I claim that a candidate’s capacity to turn to clientelistic strategies of mobilization is a necessary but insufficient condition to explain his or her decision to use clientelism. Besides having the capacity to use clientelism, candidates have to prefer to use clientelism to mobilize voters. In studying candidates’ capacities and preferences to use clientelism, this article provides an account of the microfoundations of political clientelism in Argentina. By combining quantitative and qualitative data at the municipal level, I find that the number of pragmatist candidates, who are capable of using clientelism and prefer to turn to such strategies, is almost equaled by the number of idealist candidates, who, though capable of doing so, prefer not to use clientelism.