Dictionnaire Constitutionnel

Authors: Duhamel & Mény
Summary: In a 1400-word entry the term patronage is defined and then distinguished from other similar terms.
The author focuses then extensively on the difference between the local and the federal level.
Particularly widespread in the US, the concept is defined as jobs and favors distribution by politicians to their electors and political allies. It is a reciprocal exchange relationship and in this sense it is a synonim of clientelism. Of course as political practice, it is more diffuse in electoral times. It contrasts with legal systems of public function because it creates recruitment channels based on favors and not on competence: the spoils system is a variation of patronage.
The author points out the difference between a local level and a federal level of patronage. The former arises as a party way of functioning, led by a boss whose electoral victory lays on the loyalty and help of his followers to whom the politician, if elected, will distribute favors. With social life conditions improvement and with an increased citizens political consciousness, this practice modified to the extent that party leaders began to support more, with the same goal, social campaign and civic associations rather than the single militant.
At the federal level patronage has been introduced by presidents Jefferson and Jackson, both with the aim to have bureaucracy and politics compatible. However in 1883, with the purpose of distinguish them again, the "Pendleton Act", condamning favoritism and corruption, was set. Since then, even if not disappeared, the phenomenon is largely reduced.