The University of the West Indies Press
Political Clientelism and Democracy in Belize
Dylan Vernon
Politics & Social Sciences
Political Clientelism and Democracy in Belize
US$ 9.99
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In Political Clientelism and Democracy in Belize: From My Hand to Yours, Dylan Vernon revisits the modern political history of Belize from 1954 to 2013 through the unique analytic lens of the often unspoken but ubiquitous political clientelism, in which politicians provide resources and services to people in return for political support. Presenting Belize as an illustrative and critical case of rampant and damaging political clientelism in the Commonwealth Caribbean, Vernon methodically examines how clientelist politics took root in Belize during the nationalist period and why it expanded exponentially after independence in 1981. He explores and exposes the varied interactions between the widespread day-to-day practices of entrenched clientelist politics, the multiple actors involved and, importantly, the deleterious implications for the quality of democracy and people's livelihoods.

Based on meticulous qualitative research, including in-depth interviews with Belizean political leaders and citizens, Vernon convincingly illustrates that even as the thousands of weekly informal politician/constituent transactions are essentially rational choices that have some short-term benefits for individuals - and especially the poor - collectively they spawn damaging macro-political and economic consequences for small developing states. Electoral democracy is tarnished, public resources are wasted, more politicians become clients of wealthy donors and political corruption is facilitated. As a parallel but unofficial social welfare system embeds itself at the constituency level, politicians and citizens alike have become trapped in a thorny web of mutual clientelist dependency.

List of Figures
List of Tables
Preface and Acknowledgements
Note to Readers
List of Key Acronyms and Abbreviations
1. Introduction: Belize, Democracy and Clientelism
2. Helping the People: 1954 to Independence
3. Fertile Ground: The First Post-Independence Decade
4. Clientelism Entrenched: The 1990s and Beyond
5. Fuelling the Expansion: A Perfect Storm
6. Tek di Money: Distorted Democracy
7. Big Game, Small Town: Belize through Caribbean Lens
8. Conclusions: Trapped in a Clientelist Web
Epilogue: The Next Tranche (Covering Selected Developments from 2014 to June 2021)
Appendix 1: Electoral Map of Belize by Political Party Holding Each Constituency in 2008
Appendix 2: Brief Description of the Four Constituencies Selected for Focused Research (2010 Data)
Appendix 3: “Tek di money”: Election Poster, December 2011
Selected Bibliography
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