Causes and Consequences of Political Clientelism: Mexico's PRD in Comparative Perspective



PRD politicians and officials widely use clientelism to structure their relationships with citizens. This is due not only to the entrenchment of clientelism in Mexican politics or to high rates of poverty and inequality, but also to the limited institutionalization of democratic rules inside the party. The last stems largely from the party's electoral strategy in its formative years, and has resulted in uncontrolled factional battles that play out through clientelism. The Brazilian PT faced external and internal conditions quite similar to those of the PRD, but its early focus on organization building and policy change allowed it to avoid clientelism to a greater degree. This analysis problematizes the trend of using minimalist definitions that assume clientelism to be nondemocratic because these approaches result in conceptual stretching and decreased explanatory power.