Kinship, partisanship, and patronage in Arab elections

This article examines the connection between kinship, partisanship, and patronage voting in Arab world elections. It argues that tribes and extended families enjoy structural advantages that reduce transaction costs in patron–client exchanges, making kinship voting a pragmatic strategy in clientelistic vote markets with weak parties. Using data from seven Arab countries, it demonstrates that patronage oriented voters place greater weight on candidates’ kinship affiliations and deemphasize other attributes such as morality, ability, and issue positions. It also shows that patronage considerations correspond to greater importance placed on kinship over partisan affiliations, consistent with the low credibility and modest capacity of the Arab world’s weak and personalized parties to deliver benefits to voters.

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