Wendy Hunter and Natasha Borges Sugiyama have published an article in the October issue of Comparative Politics, “Whither Clientelism? Good Governance and Brazil’s Bolsa Familia Program.”
Abstract: A clear development goal is to provide the poor with the benefits essential to human dignity without rendering them vulnerable to patronage politics. This is difficult to accomplish, especially in large federal countries where public policy requires cooperation between national and local authorities. Brazil’s Bolsa Família (Family Grant) confronts such a challenge. Have federal authorities managed to administer this complex and large-scale anti-poverty program while avoiding local “politics as usual?” The findings, based on survey data and focus group evidence from Northeast Brazil, a regional bastion of clientelism, suggest that municipal politicians do not use the Bolsa Familia for vote buying. The success of the Bolsa Familia in remaining insulated from clientelistic networks yields lessons that go well beyond Brazil.