Who Delivers? Partisan Clients in the Argentine Electoral Market


  • Ernesto Calvo,

  • Maria Victoria Murillo

  • We thank Isabella Alcaniz, Andy Baker, Teri Caraway, Javier Corrales, Jorge Dominguez, Tulia Faletti, Edward Gibson, Lucy Goodhardt, Anna Gryzmala-Busse, Stephen Haggard, Frances Hagopian, John Huber, Noah Kaplan, James McGuire, Keith Poole, David Samuels, Melissa Scheier, Kenneth Scheve, Andrew Schrank, Susan Stokes, three anonymous reviewers, and the participants in the conference “Rethinking Dual Transitions: Argentine Politics in the 1990s in Comparative Perspective” at Harvard University, March 2003; for their comments. M.V. Murillo acknowledges the support of the Carnegie Corporation Project on Globalization and Self-Determination at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies.

Ernesto Calvo is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Houston, Hoffman Hall (PGH), Office 414, Houston, TX 77204-3472 (ecalvo@uh.edu). Maria Victoria Murillo is Associate Profesor of Political Science, Columbia University, 832 International Affairs Building, Mail Code 3339, New York, NY 10027 (mm2140@columbia.edu).


Why do some parties fail to benefit from patronage in pork-ridden political systems? This article analyzes the interaction between patronage and partisanship to explain why some incumbents are more likely to benefit from pork politics than others. We explain such differences by focusing on political parties' access to resources (supply side) and voters' dependence on fiscal largesse (demand side). We show how these differences affect the patron's choice of public sector wages and employment. We use subnational level data to show different electoral returns from patronage for the two major political coalitions in Argentina—Peronism and the UCR-Alianza—and their effect on preferences over public sector wages and employment.