Conceptualization of Party Patronage

Aurimas Zaremba


The paper focuses on the conceptualization of party patronage. The analysis of the usage of the term party patronage reveals several challenges: scholars from different fields use different definitions of party patronage, in addition same phenomena can be described by different concepts making it difficult to compare data from different surveys or analysis. Furthermore the term itself must be revised continuously as it can become out dated due to changing aspects of party patronage in modern world. To clarify the usage of term party patronage it is important to define contiguous phenomenon such as clientelism, politicization, state capture, pork barrel and corruption. Hence this paper suggests slightly modified conceptualization used by Kopecky et al.: party patronage as power of political parties to make personnel decisions in the public sector for Lithuanian social sciences. Party patronage is defined by three dimensions: who makes the decision, what are the decisions and where those decisions are made? In case of party patronage political parties acts as collective patrons and they make decisions of the personnel matter (hiring, promoting and transferring of public servants) in public sector. This conceptualization enables to show differences between party patronage and contiguous phenomenon. In short clientelism should be understood as an electoral resource of the political party, while party patronage should be understood as an organizational and governmental resource. Concept of politicization is closely connected to party patronage, however politicization is more suitable for public administrative studies as it is directed to the separation of bureaucrats and politicians while party patronage in political science puts attention on the political power of parties to make personal decisions. State capture is defined as systematic influence of business to government in order to obtain favorable legal and regulatory decisions. Pork barrel politics means direction of funding and legislation towards certain constituency or geographical region. Corruption should be understood as abuse of authority and power for personal gain.


party patronage, conceptualization, clientelism, politicization, state capture, pork barrel.

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603