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Accountability and clientelism in dominant party politics: the case of a Constituency Development Fund in Tanzania

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posted on 2023-06-08, 17:30 authored by Machiko Tsubura
This thesis examines the shifting nature of accountability and clientelism in dominant party politics in Tanzania through the analysis of the introduction of a Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in 2009. A CDF is a distinctive mechanism that channels a specific portion of the government budget to the constituencies of Members of Parliament (MPs) to finance local small-scale development projects which are primarily selected by MPs. While existing studies argue that the control of resources is essential for dominant parties to maintain their power in politics, the adoption of a type of CDF in Tanzania poses a puzzle; why did the dominant ruling party of Tanzania accept a CDF that would give the legislature financial autonomy and might weaken the party’s power over MPs? Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses, the thesis demonstrates that a CDF proposal was moved forward as part of the reform to strengthen the legislature, and the ruling party accepted it to re-establish party coherence and gain public support in preparation for the general elections in 2010, after it was plagued by the revelation of corruption scandals involving party leaders and intraparty competition. The thesis has also found that a CDF was adopted when clientelistic voters were increasingly dissatisfied with the performance of MPs and some MPs had begun providing financial assistance to voters systematically. With a formal project-selection and monitoring mechanism in place, the Tanzanian CDF has more potential to restrict the prevalence of clientelistic accountability than the provision of private or club goods by MPs based on private resources. The Tanzanian case demonstrates that CDFs can potentially mitigate the influence of clientelism in the accountability relationship between MPs and voters in developing countries.


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  • Institute of Development Studies Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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