Combining Clientelist and Programmatic Politics in Tamil Nadu, South India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the use of material appeals for voter support using
evidence taken from the case of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Two types of material appeal co-exist in this case. Clientelist politics, in
the form of vote buying, and the distribution of public resources as
political patronage, are features of state politics. Parties also use
programmatic policies which offer benefits to beneficiaries regardless of
partisan affiliation. The provision of such universal benefits has
expanded since 2006. Yet the interest in universal provision significantly
pre-dates 2006 and can be traced back to elite policy preferences in the
early 1980s. The article shows that competition within a clientelist
political system need not lead to the intensification of clientelism.
Political parties may dilute their clientelist strategy by the addition of
some programmatic policies. The wider implication of this study is that
future research on material appeals should pay more attention to parties
and party systems as causal variables.
Translated title of the contributionCombining Clientelist and Programmatic Politics in Tamil Nadu, South India
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-55
Number of pages28
JournalCommonwealth and Comparative Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • patronage; clientelist politics; programmatic government; political parties; Tamil Nadu; India


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