Counting heads: A theory of voter and elite behavior in patronage democracies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The observation that patronage politics and expectations of ethnic favoritism go together is supported by a well-documented consensus among scholars of patronage democracies. According to Kearney, a student of Sri Lanka: “A common expectation seems to be that a person holding a public office or other position of power will use his position for the near-exclusive benefit of his ‘own’ people, defined by kinship, community or personal loyalty” (1973: 8). According to Haroun Adamu, a student of Nigerian politics: “It is strongly believed in this country that if you do not have one of your own kin in the local, state and/or national decision-making bodies, nobody would care to take your troubles before the decision makers, much less find solutions to them” (quoted in Joseph 1987: 67). Kenneth Post’s description of elections in Nigeria emphasizes much the same point: “It was rare for a man to stand for election in a constituency which did not contain the community in which he was born. It did not matter if he had been educated elsewhere and had his business interests outside the community in which he was born, so long as he regarded it as his home. He would still be a better representative for it than someone who came from outside, who could not even speak in the same tongue” (1963: 391).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPatrons, Clients, and Policies
Subtitle of host publicationPatterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780511585869
ISBN (Print)9780521865050
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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