It is often argued that clientelism is a key feature of electoral mobilisation in Southern European democracies. This article examines the evidence for clientelism in the Spanish case, assessing the recruitment, redistributive strategies and electoral performance of governing parties in the 1977-96 period. It finds little evidence of extensive clientelistic mobilisation, finding instead that parties’ use of state resources is largely consistent with their programmatic and ideological positions. ‘Old’ clientelism from the pre-democratic era mostly did not survive the change of regime, whilst ‘new’ clientelism based on the expansion of state employment contributed to the Socialist Party’s organisational consolidation, but was not a significant feature of its strategy of electoral mobilisation
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