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Vote buying and other forms of clientelism, which may be generally defined as the provision of material benefits in contingent exchange for political support, have long marked Mexican elections. After Mexico’s pivotal democratic election in 2000, Wayne Cornelius cogently argued that the diminished efficacy of vote buying contributed to the defeat of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Electoral reforms during the 1990s had undermined numerous fraudulent tactics such as stuffing ballot boxes and altering returns, which left the PRI increasingly reliant on vote buying (Cornelius 2004, 48–49). During the 2000 campaign, opposition parties undermined such clientelist tactics as well, urging voters “to take the gift, but vote as you please.” Now, over ten years later, many Mexicans accuse the PRI of reverting to their same old tricks. Accusations of clientelism commanded substantial attention during the 2012 campaign, and some partisans even contend that handouts helped clinch the presidential victory of Enrique Peña Nieto. Indeed, while contesting the election outcome, second-place finisher Andrés Manuel López Obrador named vote buying as one of the key crimes allegedly committed by Peña Nieto’s campaign . As we explore below, electoral officials deemed these allegations to be unfounded , and scholars argue that the many clientelist goods distributed were far from sufficient to turn the election in Peña Nieto’s favor (Greene 2012; Simpser 2012). Nevertheless, the sheer magnitude of attention paid to clientelism during recent Mexican campaigns suggests that the phenomenon—which has serious consequences for democratic accountability and responsiveness (Kitschelt and Wilkinson 2007; Stokes 2005)—deserves careful investigation. We explore clientelism during the 2012 campaign, using evidence from qualitative sources as well as from the Mexico 2012 Panel Study.1 First, we pro9 Clientelism, Declared Support, and Mexico’s 2012 Campaign SIMEON NICHTER AND BRIAN PALMER-RUBIN Clientelism, Declared Support, and the 2012 Campaign 201 vide an overview that examines how parties reportedly distributed benefits and estimates the prevalence of handouts during the campaign. Second, we examine which types of citizens were most likely to experience clientelism. Then we investigate an intriguing relationship that the literature on machine politics rarely considers: the relationship between “declared support” (Nichter 2009) and clientelist rewards. Statistical evidence suggests that citizens who publicly declare support (by placing political advertisements on their homes) are disproportionately more likely to receive gifts during the campaign. Overall, the evidence presented in this chapter suggests that machine politics is alive and well in Mexico. Overview of Clientelism in the 2012 Campaign Political parties distributed a wide range of clientelist benefits during the 2012 Mexican elections. In a national survey conducted on Election Day by the nongovernmental organization Alianza Cívica, 28% of voters reported that they or somebody they knew was exposed to vote buying or pressured to vote in a certain way.2 Newspapers point to a broad array of handouts, including money, food, clothing, gift cards, and even sheep. Although Mexico’s electoral governance body (the Instituto Federal Electoral, or IFE) has made impressive strides in reducing many forms of electoral malfeasance, such as stuffed ballot boxes and rigged vote-counting machines, the perceived validity of elections continues to be threatened by widespread reports of clientelism. A 2010 AmericasBarometer survey found that 7.5% of Mexicans reported “frequently” receiving offers to exchange votes for benefits in recent elections, while an additional 9.2% reported receiving offers “sometimes” (N = 1,541). The Mexico 2012 Panel Study provides evidence about the prevalence of clientelism during the most recent presidential election. As shown in table 9.1, 7.7% of survey respondents reported receiving offers of gifts during either of the survey waves. Experiences with clientelism were far more prevalent later in the campaign: while 2.8% of respondents reported offers during the first wave, 5.7% did so during the second wave. While the overall incidence of clientelist offers may appear rather low, these aggregate figures belie substantial geographic heterogeneity. Consider that the survey included over 1,300 respondents from sixty-five localities across the country. In 38% of localities, not a single respondent reported receiving a gift offer during either wave of the panel survey. By contrast, in 20% of localities, at least 15% of respondents reported receiving such offers. The reported prevalence of clientelism is much greater when 202 Mexico’s Evolving Democracy asking questions about respondents’ communities instead of about their personal experiences. Across all respondents in the second wave, 63% believe that politicians frequently try to buy votes in their respective communities...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781421415550
Related ISBN
9781421415543
MARC Record
OCLC
899212335
Pages
304
Launched on MUSE
2015-02-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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