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Clientelism and economic policy: hybrid characteristics of collective action in Greece

Trantidis, Aris, (2015), Clientelism and economic policy: hybrid characteristics of collective action in Greece, Journal of European Public Policy, 11 November

How does clientelism affect policy-making? Can patrons in government discard groups of clients in order to pursue reforms in conditions of crisis? The article argues that clientelism goes beyond the exchange of votes and may permeate organizations with the capacity for collective action such as labour unions. This merger gives rise to a clientelist-collective system that changes both patron–client relations and the context of collective action with important implications for the design of economic policy. As evidence from Greece shows, patrons in government are better off avoiding reforms that deprive their client groups of collective and personal benefits (clientelist bias in policy-making). Labour unions infiltrated by party clients have weak autonomy from the patron party but, operating inside the party network, they can effectively safeguard their access to club goods. Interdependent preferences and organizational linkages between the patron party and its client organizations favour collaboration and co-optation over open confrontation in policy-making processes.

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