Patronage and Clientelist Politics in Egypt

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Patronage & Clientelist Politics In Egypt
Sherif Ramadan


Professor Hilgers

Patronage & clientelist politics In Egypt

Research Question:

What factors sustained patronage and Clientelistic practices in Egypt during the pre-Arab spring?

On the fifteenth day of January 2011, during the celebration of the Egyptian police forces, the Egyptian citizenry broke into a protest against the increased rates of corruption in the Mubarak government. Within two weeks, the public successfully ousted Mubarak out of power. The political origin of the Arab spring was straightforward; the various regimes had failed to develop open and pluralistic political systems (The Guardian 159). There were also underlying economic reasons with the governments’ failure to provide employment opportunities to the young people. The economic policies after adopted independence did not perpetuate inclusive growth (Jason 150). The economy did not grow speedily enough to provide sufficient employment opportunities to the fast growing population. There was slow economic growth, rapid population growth and low rates of employment. Food prices and poverty levels were also extraordinarily high. Inequality was widespread with irregular distribution of income (Rodger 60).

The pre-Arab spring in Egypt was mainly characterized of an economic oppression regime that was used buy the elite to manipulate the lower status parties in exchange for voting them to power. The country was marred with poor political systems that were highly corrupt state of emergency laws, authoritarian elections and religious fundamentalism (Sharabi, 200). After the 1967 Six Day War, an emergency law that limited the freedom of the people and certain constitutional rights was issued. The law allowed the state to detain individuals and easily censor newspapers. It also gave too much authority to the police (Sehata, 24), and this made them exploitative to the public. Economic oppression of the people translated to child labour, overworking and remarkably little pay fin return and thereby this resulted to low national output with extremely little to invest in development projects and provision of public goods (Stephen 778).

In ancient Rome, clients were the followers of an aristocrat, and they were related through a code of conduct and ethics. The clients were free from slavery, and the relationship was inherited. The patrons offered them jobs protection or even land to work on (Weber 265). James Scott defines clientelism as a relationship in which a person with higher economic status called a patron uses his position of influence and resources to provide protection and other benefits to another person of a lower class. The client reciprocates by offering support from political to personal to the patron (Scott 197). There are eight characteristics of patron client relationships. It is dyadic, asymmetrical, reciprocal, personal and voluntary.

First, clientelism is the trading of goods and services for political support. In fact, it is regarded as a political system that involves asymmetric relationships between parties of political actors known as patrons and clients. It is a quid pro between groups and individuals of different social standing. In essence, collaboration entails actions founded on the principle of give and take with mutual benefits for both the patrons and clients. According to historian Richard Graham, it is the principle of take there and gives there. However, it is crucial to note that clientelism mostly involves a relationship between unequal parties. Cash, goods, and services are some of the favours that the patrons expect from their clients (Contemporary Conflict 345).

The growing literature in politics and defining political behaviours have given various definitions for clientelism practises in the society. Various scholars have argued that the various clients depend on the rewards that the population expects in return. With the general...
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