Buying Brokers: Electoral Handouts beyond Clientelism in a Weak-Party State

Allen Hicken, Edward Aspinall, Meredith Weiss, Burhanuddin Muhtadi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Studies of electoral clientelism - the contingent exchange of material benefits for electoral support - frequently presume the presence of strong parties. Parties facilitate monitoring and enforcement of vote buying and allow brokers to identify core voters for turnout buying. Where money fuels campaigns but elections center around candidates, not parties, how do candidates pitch electoral handouts? The authors analyze candidates' distribution of cash during an Indonesian election. Drawing upon varied data, including surveys of voters and brokers, candidates' cash-distribution lists, and focus-group discussions, they find heavy spending but little evidence of vote buying or turnout buying. Instead, candidates buy brokers. With little loyalty or party brand to draw on, candidates seek to establish credibility with well-networked brokers, who then protect their turf with token payments for their own presumed bloc of voters. The authors find little evidence of monitoring of either voter or broker behavior, which is consistent with their argument that these payments are noncontingent.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-120
    JournalWorld Politics
    Volume74
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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