Beyond the Machine: Clientelist Brokers and Interest Organizations in Latin America

  • Holland A
  • Palmer-Rubin B
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Abstract

Organizational membership is one of the strongest, yet overlooked, predictors of vote buying across Latin America. We argue that this relationship is driven by the fact that politicians outsource some of their vote-buying efforts to interest associations. In contrast to the existing literature that focuses on party brokers, who are loyal to a single political machine, we introduce the concepts of organizational brokers, who represent interest associations and renegotiate ties to political parties between election cycles, and hybrid brokers, who split their loyalties between an interest association and a single political party. We illustrate the operation of these alternative broker types through case studies of street-vending organizations in an uninstitutionalized party system, Colombia, and peasant organizations in an institutionalized party system, Mexico. Attention to the role of brokers and the organizations that they represent has implications for political accountability, collective action, and the persistence of clientelism.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Latin American politics
  • brokers
  • clientelism
  • interest organizations
  • patronage

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