Keywords: Political parties; Bureaucracies; Patronage; Clientelism; State capture.
Research in comparative politics has shown a renewed interest in the relation between political parties and the state. However, we know comparatively little about patronage - defined as the power of political parties to distribute public sector posts - as a key dimension of the linkage between political parties and the state. This article, based on comparative empirical evidence on patterns of patronage in 15 European democracies, has two central goals. First, it seeks to empirically evaluate commonalities and differences among European democracies with respect to patronage and its pervasiveness, logic and mechanics. Second, it considers the new light that the empirical analysis sheds on the contemporary explanations of patronage. The empirical analysis suggests that it is the interaction of administrative legacy effects with patterns of party system consolidation and crisis that accounts for the differences in contemporary patronage practices.