Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 October 2009
Individual politicians and political parties can be linked to their (prospective) voters by various means (Lawson 1980; Müller 1989; Kitschelt 2000b). The three most commonly referred to in the literature, beginning with Max Weber (1976), are policy, clientelism, and charisma. As charisma is a rare gift and hardly any Western party nowadays builds exclusively or overwhelmingly on the charisma of its leader I will not address it here. It is sufficient to note that charisma can be combined with any of the other linkage strategies. Likewise, policy and clientelism can go together. Moreover, I take it that policy linkage nowadays is the rule in Western democracies. Although this is probably more true at the normative level – the self-presentation of the relevant actors – than empirically, electoral politics are mostly policy-driven even in the countries that are labeled “high in clientelism” below. If anything, clientelism is nowadays less important for tying voters to political parties than two decades or more ago. Hence, the chapter is interested in the question of which institutional features make it more or less likely that linkages based on policies are accompanied by clientelistic appeals (and potentially provide for clientelism as the main linkage mechanism).
This chapter employs the definition of clientelism used throughout the volume as particularistic and direct exchange between clients and politicians.