Paying Party Brokers: How Patronage Sustains Machine Parties


How clientelist parties pay their brokers has important implications for party system institutionalization and the distribution of state resources. But existing literature is yet to systematically analyze brokers’ compensation. Using a panel survey of over 1,000 brokers in Ghana’s ruling party, we track their compensation across a full electoral cycle. We show that the party operates a hybrid payment system missed by existing studies focused narrowly on the electoral period. In the immediate post-election period party leaders use disaggregated election results to reward the best performing brokers. But after this period, when the bulk of payments are made, the party instead rewards brokers based on their social connections to elites in the party hierarchy. Such a structure allows the party to balance the dual needs of agent competence and loyalty.

Working paper