Religious market structure and democratic performance: clientelism

Stratos Patrikios, Georgios Xezonakis

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Is there a connection between government intervention in religious competition and partisan clientelism in democratic systems? Drawing on the economics of religion, we argue that alongside commonly examined population-level religious processes (religious diversity), state-level religious processes (government regulation of competition in the religious market) affect institutional performance in electoral democracies. Linking comparative indicators of religion-state relations with measures of partisan clientelism, statistical analysis suggests that uncompetitive religious markets, such as those where a dominant religion is sponsored by the state, create incentives, infrastructures and opportunities that favour clientelism. The study emphasises the importance of light-touch regulation of religion not merely as a normative principle narrowly related to religious freedom, but also as a potential remedy that can enhance the quality of political institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102073
Number of pages11
JournalElectoral Studies
Early online date12 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019


  • electoral clientelism
  • economics of religion
  • religion and the state


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