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Golden: Electoral connections

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Golden. 2003. Electoral connections: The effects of the personal vote on political patronage, bureaucracy, and le. British Journal of Political Science 33:189-212.


Golden explicitly sees her approach as a rival to the political culture (Putnam) and principal-agent (P-A) literature. She claims that the P-A framework can't explain why legislators produced poorly designed pieces of legislation, and why they don't correct it once they realize it's poorly designed.

Instead (and I'm not convinced it can't be fit into a P-A framework of some sort), Golden argues that institutional factors (primarily electoral laws) structure behavior. Specifically, she argues that in Italy the preference vote led to personalism and that the strong committee system led to pork.

Golden argues that this gives legislators an incentive to create an oversized bureaucracy and no incentive to rein it in. Also, because of the reliance on pork from local representatives, there is no incentive for voters to move for system reform.


What happens when the voters (the principal) is captured by its agent? Golden suggests that this might be happening in Italy. She observes that once provision of private (or local) goods became entrenched, the difficulties for coordinating nation-wide for reform became prohibitive (211).

"Bureaucratic corruption was a natural and predictable outgrowth of the excessive legalism and legislation characteristic of the Italian system, and of an administrative system with virtually no ex post monitoring" (209). Golden argues that these features were "deliberately designed in order to enhance opportunities for bureaucratic corruption, thereby binding bureaucrats more closely to their political patrons" (209).

Essentially Golden sees the Italian bureaucracy as being "captured" by the party (the DC).