PUBLICATIONS: Peer-Reviewed Articles
(Forthcoming) “Politics and Gender in Buenos Aires.” Journal of Politics in Latin America.
This article examines the gender gap in clientelism by studying questions of political participation and representation between male and female brokers. Whereas party brokers have occupied a central role in the literature on clientelistic politics, gender differences have been completely ignored. Using original quantitative and qualitative data gathered over 26 months of fieldwork in several provinces in Argentina, a developing country where clientelism thrives as much as women’s participation in politics, the paper shows how even though female brokers work as much as male brokers, they are, nevertheless, systematically underrepresented politically.
This paper provides an alternative causal mechanism to explain why parties monitor voters. The ability to monitor voters, defined as a clientelistic party’s capacity to convince voters that it can identify the candidate(s) for whom they voted, remains a core assumption in the literature. The underlying logic of the argument is that if clientelistic parties cannot monitor voters, they run the risk of voters taking the goods with one hand and voting with the other. Instead of focusing on commitment, I argue that monitoring makes clientelism work by forcing voters to publicly signal their electoral support before getting to the voting booth. Using empirical evidence from Argentina, this article shows how parties mobilize and monitor voters before elections to avoid the costs of verifying their electoral choices on an individual basis.
The mayors of the Conurbano are as or more important than some governors. Yet, given their importance, it is surprising the lack of academic information about them. The rich body of literature about subnational politics in Political Science has accurately pointed out that in order to understand national politics, we needed to pay attention to the dynamics of political activity below the national level. However, the term subnational is often restricted to describe provincial governments largely ignoring the importance of municipal officials. Studying the political careers of some mayors of the Conurbano, this article seeks to show the contributions and limitations of subnational studies to understand municipal politics. Specifically, the article focuses on the reelection of the mayors of the Conurbano possible until 2016.
This essay advocates for the use of multi-method research in comparative politics. Using an example from distributive politics, the case of political clientelism in new democracies in developing countries, this essay shows the advantages of combining qualitative and quantitative tools to conduct theoretically informed and empirically sound research.
This paper provides a novel answer to explain the persistence of party rallies in the mass and social media era. I argue that rallies contribute to the organizational structure of clientelistic parties by providing information to different members within and outside the machine. Rallies provide party leaders with information that enables them to monitor brokers’ capacity to mobilize voters, party brokers with an opportunity to display their ability to turn out voters while monitoring voters’ responses, and voters with an opportunity to display their gratitude or fear towards brokers. In addition, rallies provide the opposition with an opportunity to gather information about the electoral strength or weakness of the clientelistic party. Drawing on participant observations, over a 100 interviews, archival research in Argentina and Peru, and secondary literature for the cases of Mexico and Brazil, I explain why political parties conduct rallies and why rallies will continue in the future.
This paper challenges the assumption that parties and candidates with access to material benefits will always distribute goods to low-income voters in exchange for electoral support. I claim that a candidate’s capacity to turn to clientelistic strategies of mobilization is a necessary but insufficient condition to explain his or her decision to use clientelism. Besides having the capacity to use clientelism, candidates have to prefer to use clientelism to mobilize voters. In studying candidates’ capacities and preferences to use clientelism, the paper provides an account of the microfoundations of political clientelism in Argentina. By combining quantitative and qualitative data at the municipal level, I find that the number of pragmatist candidates, who are capable of using clientelism and prefer to turn to these strategies, is almost equaled by the number of idealist candidates who, although capable, prefer not to use clientelism.
Why do some candidates prefer to use clientelistic strategies to mobilize voters while others do not? Building on existing explanations that highlight the importance of voters’ demand for particularistic goods, and parties’ capacities to supply goods and monitor voters, this article focuses on candidates’ political careers. I argue that how candidates begin building a following has important and enduring consequences in the strategies candidates employ in mobilizing voters. Drawing on participant observation, field and archival research, and over 100 in-depth interviews with candidates and activists in Argentine municipalities, I describe the different career paths available to candidates. I find that how candidates begin mobilizing voters to participate in rallies and elections becomes crucial in explaining their preferences to use clientelism. Candidates who receive a salary based upon their ability to mobilize voters, paid party activists, are more likely to use clientelism than candidates who are not paid for their political work, unpaid party activists.
Party brokers have information about voters’ political preferences and their likelihood of turning out to vote, and are able to target clientelistic inducements and monitor voter participation in exchange for voters’ electoral support. However, brokers may also use the clientelistic inducements they receive from bosses to pursue their personal enrichment, at the cost of lost votes for their party. Drawing on an original dataset that traces the political careers of 137 municipal candidates in Argentina, I show how bosses combine information from voter turnout at rallies and elections. By comparing a broker’s ability to mobilize voters, bosses are able to make inferences about reliable brokers who will distribute party goods to voters, and unreliable brokers who will use party goods to pad their own pockets.
Clientelism is a problem-solving network where brokers solve voter problems by providing material and non-material resources in exchange of political support. The literature emphasis on political networks ignores the existence of non-political networks, such as money lending, childcare, and counseling, that also contribute to solve voter problems. This paper uses original data collected by the author in Villa Angel, a densely populated working-class neighborhood located on the outskirts of Buenos Aires City, to show that a broker’s central position in non-political networks explains his or her ability to influence vote choice. Consequently, to understand the effects that problem-solving networks have on political behavior, researchers and policy makers have to pay attention to the overlap and relationships between political and non-political networks.
Este trabajo analiza el uso de clientelismo político en actos partidistas en América Latina. Si bien el intercambio de favores por votos es una vieja pero efectiva forma de conseguir apoyo electoral, la distribución de bolsas de comida, colchones, lavarropas, y planes sociales en aras de fomentar la participación política resulta sorprendente. ¿Por qué pagar por una participación en actos partidistas que no se traduce necesariamente en votos? Este trabajo muestra cómo los líderes políticos utilizan convocatorias a actos políticos para disciplinar a sus representantes, a la vez que envían claras señales del nivel de apoyo político que goza el partido. De este modo, el uso de clientelismo político sirve para disuadir la creación de una oposición política organizada, contribuyendo así a consolidar el poder de maquinarias políticas locales.
This paper presents an analysis of a poverty alleviation program implemented in Argentina, Plan Vida. Created and launched by the incumbent party, the program ultimately failed to deliver the desired electoral results and has only achieved a moderate improvement in public health indicators. However, the plan has enhanced the ability to negotiate their role and status for many of its participants within their communities. By using a comprehensive approach to evaluate the effects of this program, several indirect benefits to women and society are shown. Overall, this paper shows the importance of using a comprehensive approach to evaluate the effects of social policy.
This paper challenges the assumption that parties and candidates with access to material benefits will always distribute goods to low-income voters in exchange for electoral support. I claim that a candidate’s capacity to turn to clientelistic strategies of mobilization is a necessary but insufficient condition to explain his or her decision to use clientelism. Besides having access to material resources and a network of party activists to distribute goods to potential voters, candidates have to prefer to use clientelism to mobilize voters. In studying candidates’ capacities and preferences to use clientelism, the paper provides an account of the microfoundations of political clientelism in Argentina. By combining quantitative and qualitative data at the municipal level, I find that the number of pragmatist candidates, who are capable of using clientelism and prefer to turn to these strategies, is almost equaled by the number of idealist candidates who, although capable, prefer not to use clientelism.
Este artículo analiza la consolidación del clientelismo político, definido como el intercambio de bienes particulares, como planes sociales y empleo público, a cambio de apoyo político en democracia. Contra lo que planteaban las primeras investigaciones sobre la transición democrática, el clientelismo no ha desaparecido. Por el contrario, se ha consolidado. A través de un trabajo de campo exhaustivo en municipalidades Argentinas, la autora muestra la existencia de una lógica de incentivos perversos que premia con promociones políticas a los candidatos que utilizan estrategias clientelares para movilizar a votantes.
(2002) “Feeding Loyalties: An Analysis of the Case of the Manzaneras.” Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. Working Paper
(2001) “Las Fuentes Institucionales del Gobierno Dividido en Argentina: Sesgo Mayoritario, Partidario, y Competencial Electoral en las Legislaturas Provinciales Argentinas” in El Federalismo Electoral Argentino. Calvo, Ernesto and Juan Manuel Abal Medina (Eds.). EUDEBA. (with Ernesto Calvo et al.)