Explaining resilience in clientelist voting



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The central argument of this dissertation is relatively counterintuitive: increases in income do not necessarily cause decreases in clientelist voting. A decline in clientelist voting—voting based on individualized, voluntary, and asymmetric transactions with politicians—requires the presence of another factor: a viable alternative to clientelist politicians. This, in turn, hinges upon institutional factors, particularly the effective number of parties of a given country. In countries with many different parties and candidates, increases in income will not affect levels of clientelist voting. I draw on a variety of data to support my claim, including non-participant observation and interviews from the 2014 electoral campaign in Brazil, as well as Brazilian survey data, cross-national expert surveys on clientelism, and natural experiments using experimental trials of income transfer programs to pinpoint the effect of income on clientelist voting.