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Why Do Governments Maintain Public Support?

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This article addresses possible reasons for citizens’ support of corrupt governments. The authors argue that people in countries where weak governmental institutions are present, as well as strong patron-client relationships, are more likely to support corrupt leaders if they are to receive tangible benefits. The authors note that despite academic attention towards the consequences of political corruption on economic growth and public support for democratic institutions, little has been done to understand reasons behind success of corrupt politicians and those with tarnished reputations in winning office and power-positions. The authors argue that corrupt governments may survive because they are able to buy off voters through clientelistic networks, and the analysis shows that political support for corrupt governments declines if governments are unable to reward political loyalties and dispense tangible benefits. Additionally, they argue that less support for corrupt governments exists in countries where strong democratic institutions are in place and, therefore, argue for an inverse relationship between democracy and political support of corrupt governments and institutions.

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Comparative Political Studies