Good Governance in Poor Places: Explaining Inclusive Politics in Emerging Subnational Democracies
Phillips, Jonathan Peter
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CitationPhillips, Jonathan Peter. 2017. Good Governance in Poor Places: Explaining Inclusive Politics in Emerging Subnational Democracies. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe terms on which citizens of emerging democracies access public resources are often skewed by their economic vulnerability, making them dependent on clientelist relationships. To what extent is this clientelist trap of selective exclusion an inevitable feature of democracy in poor places? This dissertation takes inspiration from three `least-likely' subnational cases of inclusive good governance amid extreme poverty. To explain why elites unexpectedly pursue impersonal, inclusive policies and how voters defy the clientelist trap to re-elect them, the analysis combines formal theory, multiple household surveys and subnational comparisons spanning Brazil, India and Nigeria. The evidence suggests that inclusive governance is an attractive strategy for `outsider' leaders with relatively weak clientelist networks who are threatened by competing clientelist elites. Using the state apparatus for inclusive rule enforcement prevents clientelist discretion, starving competitors of rents and support, and securing the outsider's political authority. These incentives are likely to arise even in poor clientelist places where outsiders are elevated to power by national actors seeking to promote local allies.
Whether voters can escape the clientelist trap to re-elect the outsider reformer depends on their collective confidence in the reformer's performance. The delivery of large public benefits can provide a crucial coordinating device in anchoring expectations that other voters will reject clientelism. However, voters' ability to coordinate may be impaired if resurgent clientelist competitors intensify their threats or use disinformation tactics such as rumours of corruption to undermine the reputation of the inclusive incumbent. Mitigating these threats relies on supportive national financing and the ability to monopolize the media or coopt clientelist elites. The consolidation of inclusive governance is also aided by national inclusive policies that constrain the supply of local clientelist goods and create a demand for inclusive governance by insulating voters' incomes from political interference. However, national policy may only be effective where it complements local reform.
These arguments demonstrate that inclusive governance does not depend on economic development or externally-mobilized parties. Even the poorest societies can extend full citizenship rights and equitable policy access to their members. The unpredictability and competition of subnational politics provides alternative motives for elites to introduce governance reform, and new opportunities for voters to rally against clientelism.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140252
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