Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 October 2009
In 1995, in a small city in northeastern Argentina, a local magnate who owned some gas stations, a transportation company, and several other businesses supported a fellow Radical Party member in the contest for mayor. But once in office the magnate's protégé proved too independent. In the next mayoral race, in 1999, the magnate threw his support behind a competitor. Despite the mayor's evident popularity, his supporters felt pressure to vote for the magnate's candidate and the mayor lost the election (Urquizo 1999).
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Christian Democratic Party swelled the bureaucracy of the southern Italian cities of Naples and Palermo, offering employment in return for electoral support. Chubb (1981) explains how the “vote-for-job exchange” worked:
In a highly competitive situation for both hiring and promotion, with virtually everyone recommended by one prominent politician or another, the weight of the recommendation is directly proportional to the power of the patron, which is in turn closely linked to the number of personal preference votes received in the preceding election. The employee's fate, as well as his chances of placing other family members, is thus directly dependent on the continued electoral success of the patron …(Chubb: 114)
These two situations have at least one thing in common: the scholars who study them describe them as instances of clientelism. Clientelism is one of those social science terms that mean different things to different people.