Clientelism in public employment – the practice of offering jobs in return for political favours to a party or politician – is a problem from the perspectives of equality, democratic accountability and economic efficiency.
Focusing on intra-party competition, this book presents an original explanation of why some politicians and parties engage more extensively in such practices than others.
Examining Argentina and Turkey in a period of economic restructuring, the author argues that patronage jobs are distributed hierarchically to the politicians' circle. Consequently, the distribution of patronage is affected by competition for party leadership.
Analysis of original statistical and case study data at the sub-national level confirms that clientelistic practices are influenced by party characteristics. Kemahlioğlu's research reveals a surprising and counterintuitive conclusion; that when party support is crucial to politicians' career progression and the leadership of the party is openly contested, the proliferation of clientelism is contained and controlled.
'Özge Kemahlioğlu's study is a trailblazer moving beyond the partly correct, but woefully incomplete baseline hypothesis that growing economic affluence will erode clientelistic citizen-party linkages. According to her innovative argument, it is the interplay between party leaders and potential challengers inside parties that affects politicians' propensity to dispense patronage. Politicians provide less patronage, when competitiveness in the struggle for elected office is all around them: they need their national party leaders' support to survive electoral challenges. But these leaders themselves perceive electoral challenges that make them suspicious of the loyalty of their followers and not supply support, were the latter to build up grassroots patronage networks. Kemahlioğlu's evidence from Argentinian and Turkish regional and metropolitan politics shows this to be particularly important in an era of economic liberalisation with scarcer patronage resources. The book contributes to the theory of citizen-politician linkage building by focusing on political economy and intra-party organisation. It demonstrates an exemplary research strategy to nest the empirical test of a causal argument with sub-national observations into the geographically, institutionally and culturally very different regime contexts of Argentina and Turkey.'
Herbert Kitschelt, Duke University
Review by Nikos Christofis in September 2013 edition of the Journal of Global Faultlines, published online 10 October 2013
'Agents or Bosses? treats the issue of state-citizen relationship and patronage jobs on behalf of party members in order to get electoral winnings, and “to shed light on mainly the political factors that shape how elected public office holders supply public jobs through particularistic relationships to some selected citizens” (p 1). Kemahlıoğlu adopts a comparative analysis, which adds additional value to her findings. She acknowledges the similarities and differences between her two case studies, Turkey and Argentina, and she moves cautiously with her methodological approach and her extensive empirical and statistical analysis.
It is common knowledge that politicians and parties in modern societies aim at building networks of supporters by forming particularistic relationships with citizens through the exchange of public material benefits. The author is aware of the different interpretations proposed by scholars and she provides the reader with a well-documented literature review in order to introduce him/her on the treatment that will follow. Clientelist practices and patronage-ridden politics have been commonplace in modern societies in general, in Turkey especially after Second World War, and in Argentina since the early 20th century.
The book is structured in seven parts. The introduction of the book deals with the argumentation around which the author will base her study. The reader will find the reasons that made her choose Argentina and Turkey as her case studies. One of the greatest similarities is the problems both countries face with the quality of democracy. Using two countries differing largely between them, both culturally and politically, helped the author to test her hypothesis in different settings and to develop her theoretical arguments (p 9). Kemahlıoğlu holds that in order to fully understand “the political factors that affect levels of particularism in public employment, we have to analyse two stages of political competition: among parties in general elections and within parties for nomination and leadership” (p 7). In other words, the internal party politics matter to understand particularism in citizen-state relationships.
In chapter two, there is a brief summary of the neo-liberal economic changes that both countries have gone through since the 1980s. Kemahlıoğlu refers to the already existing arguments about the impact of economic structures and conditions on particularistic distribution of state resources by politicians (pp 14-35), to conclude that economic liberalization restricted the possibility, on both countries, of hiring new employees in the public administration. Due to this fact, the limited number of jobs remained was made more valuable for both politicians and citizens. Therefore, these patronage jobs were allocated by politicians “in a direct and personal manner to active supporters in their parties” (p 41).
The following chapter deals with the internal dynamic of political parties in Argentina and Turkey and discusses why and how patronage jobs are used within parties to show that politicians have various purposes for distributing material benefits in exchange for political support, and to build political loyalties. Due to the perplexity of this relationship the hierarchically high-level party politicians are not certain about the lower level politician’s ambitions. Kemahlıoğlu demonstrates that in this interaction the number of patronage jobs that are distributed in the districts of the lower level politicians clarify the ambitions of the latter.
In chapter four, the author analyses the factors that lead to variations in the interaction within the politicians of the party itself. In doing so, Kemahlıoğlu is making use of a game-theoretic model of internal party competition and particularistic exchanges within parties. The model describes an interaction of two party members (a higher-level and a lower-level member) within the same party and the role of patronage jobs to their interaction. Kemahlıoğlu’s study improves our understanding of clientelism by exposing how the public sector size can be used as a signaling effort between politicians of the same party and hence emphasizing intra-party politics in addition to inter-party competition. The argument that can be derived by the chapter is that the members of a party that rely on the party support and whose party leader is not dominant within the party, prefer not to engage in large extent in order to appear less challenging to the party leader and not to lose their own benefits and support by the party and its leader (pp 61-64).
Chapters five and six deal with each country analyzing public employment at the sub-national level to understand how socio-economic and political factors have led to variation in how politicians and parties use public employment to build political support. Kemahlıoğlu convincingly demonstrates the expectation that internal party politics affect patronage in public employment. The use of empirical analysis by two provinces in each country, i.e. Buenos Aires and Chaco in Argentina and Istanbul and Bilecik in Turkey, and statistical data to support her argumentation and findings leaves very limited space to contest their validity.
In the final part Kemahlıoğlu includes a very helpful 27-page appendix with all the data she has used. However, the appendices, the highly demanding statistical tables and equations make obvious that her target audience is mainly a trained primarily as political scientist with statistical knowledge, and not the general one with an interest in Turkish and Argentinean politics and history. Additionally, it would be beneficial for the study’s to have included a presentation of the period before the establishment of neo-liberalism, in order for some additional comparisons to be made and general knowledge to be acquired.
To sum up, the present book deals with a dimension of the topic of patronage that has not been thoroughly studied in the relevant literature. It manages to demonstrate convincingly and eloquently that the characteristics of the parties themselves and intra-party politics matter also. Patronage-clientelism politics are explored in a very rigorous and novel way. The study of Kemahlıoğlu is of high-standard and it brings new evidence and well-researched analysis, supported by statistical data and carefully structured comparative analysis. The present book is a must-read for those interested in patronage-clientelism and intra-party politics specifically, and for Turkish and Argentinean politics in general.'