International Handbook on Informal Governance
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International Handbook on Informal Governance

Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Christine Neuhold

Acknowledging that governance relies not only on formal rules and institutions but to a significant degree also on informal practices and arrangements, this unique Handbook examines and analyses a wide variety of theoretical, conceptual and normative perspectives on informal governance.
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Chapter 10: Clientelism, Corruption and Political Cartels: Informal Governance in Southern Europe

Jonathan Hopkin


Jonathan Hopkin INTRODUCTION This chapter reassesses the role of informal politics in Southern Europe, with a particular focus on the role of political parties and elections. The Southern European democracies provide a privileged vantage point to observe informal politics in action, since they have a long tradition of clientelism and patronage, yet as advanced democracies they have relatively transparent political institutions, facilitating research into the phenomenon. It is also important to study the nature of informal institutions in advanced democracies such as those in Southern Europe, since they add a dimension to the comparative study of political institutions in the advanced world that is often missing from mainstream research (Kitschelt and Wilkinson 2007, p. 1). Studies of informal governance have historically often focused on developing countries which have yet to build democratic institutions and suffer chronic poverty. Early scholarship on informal politics often saw patrimonialism and clientelism as symptoms of traditional societies yet to undergo social and economic modernization. Yet the Southern European countries mostly entered the ranks of the rich nations some time ago, and have enjoyed decades of largely stable and effective democratic rule. What is a particularly striking feature of informal governance in Southern Europe is that informal politics has prospered within the framework of stable democracy and a highly developed economy. In this context, political parties and elections have played a key role in the emergence and maintenance of networks of clientelism, patronage and corruption. The rest of this chapter will chart the development and evolution...

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