Patron-Client Politics Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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Category: Politics

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In most countries, political participation is an important aspect in government and citizen relationship. Citizen participation is very essential in any country to ensure that the government is properly delivering its responsibilities to the people. This is why there are many avenues that are created and some that are still being explored, which will make people to actively participate in political issues. However, there are some regimes wherein the channel for political participation is not open.

Being the case, there is a different way by which people could participate in politics without the direct involvement that is most observable in a democratic form of governance. This is greatly exemplified by the concept of patron-client politics. Patron-client politics is defined as the relationships wherein patrons that belong to the high status in society provide protection and resources to lower status clients. In doing so, the patrons ask the clients for their votes and support in exchange for what they give.

The power that the patrons have is very beneficial in negotiating their interests with the government. These informal hierarchies of patron-client networks provide ordinary people a contact with formal politics (Wai-man, 2007). Patrons are often composed of government officials, landlords, employers, ethnic leaders, and party leaders (Wai-man, 2007). There are instances that patrons also act as intermediary agents of control that paved the way for the socialization between the people and the state (Wai-man, 2007).

On the other hand, clients are those people that belong in the lower status of the society. These people do not possess abundant resources unlike the patrons, which is why they are dependent upon the patrons in order to provide for their needs. In most developing countries, the majority of the citizens are regarded as clients while the small portion of their population is the higher class patrons. According to Grabowski, Self, and Shields (2007), patron-client politics is based on illegitimacy.

This is because such network is grounded on the face-to-face interactions between patrons and clients rather than the formal adherence to rules and regulations. In order for this kind of political structure to work, the ruling elites that mostly compose the patrons should have control over government institutions. In this case, the patrons could influence the government to make policies that are for their own benefit. This is why the clients are put in a disadvantageous position because the allocation of resources is dependent upon the patrons.

They could only get some of these resources if they follow and support their patrons. Most of the time, the clients usually acquire an unfair portion of these resources that the patrons give. Being the case, the clients are always under the control of the patrons. Nevertheless, there are also advantageous effects that the clients could achieve from such political set-up. The clients can get the necessary resources in order to sustain their needs. Moreover, this is also a way by which the client could be able to participate in political processes.

The formal political structure of the state of Mexico is applicable in the development of patron-client relationship within the country. 10 percent of the Mexican population belongs to the upper class that is composed of the countrys business executives and government leaders. The lower sector of the country, which consists of the majority of the citizens are made up of industrial workers, informal-sector employees and peasants (The Library of Congress Country Studies, 1996).

This kind of social structure supports the concept of patron-client politics because the elite class holds the resources as well as the power that enables them to put the lower class under their control. They could easily give resources to the lower class that needs it in order to get their support in return. Furthermore, unequal distribution of income within Mexicos society proves that patron-client relationship already exists in the country.

Patron-client relationship is not only dependent on the political situation of the country but it is also linked with the social structure of the country. This interaction exists when a small portion of the society controls the resources and the political power in order to dominate others. The presence of the lower class that requires the necessary aid for their everyday living also further supports this kind of relationship. As such, the political make-up and situation in Mexico clearly proves the existence of patron-client politics.

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