Federalism and low-maintenance constituencies: Territorial dimensions of economic reform in Argentina

Edward L Gibson*, Ernesto Calvo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


How does the territorial distribution of political and economic resources within national polities influence politics and policy making? This article examines the electoral dynamics of market reform in Argentina between 1989 and 1995. It provides insights into the way that the distribution of economic and institutional resources in federal systems shapes policy making and coalition building options for reformist governments. The electoral viability of the governing Peronist Party during the economic reform period was facilitated by the regional phasing of the costs of market reform. Structural reforms were concentrated primarily on economically developed regions of the country, while public spending and patronage in economically marginal but politically overrepresented regions sustained support for the governing party. Statistical analyses contrast patterns of spending and public sector employment in "metropolitan" and "peripheral" regions of the country during the reform period, as well as the social bases of electoral support in those regions. A conceptual distinction between "high-maintenance" and "low-maintenance" constituencies is also introduced to shed light on the dynamics of patronage spending in contexts of market reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-55
Number of pages24
JournalStudies in Comparative International Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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