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Water and Politics

Clientelism and Reform in Urban Mexico

Subjects: Political Science, Public Policy, Urban Politics, Latin American Studies
Hardcover : 9780472130320, 280 pages, 11 tables, 3 figures, 6 x 9, February 2017
Ebook : 9780472122721, 280 pages, 11 tables, 3 figures, February 2017
Paperback : 9780472037490, 280 pages, 11 tables, 3 figures, 6 x 9, July 2019
Ebook : 9780472904341, 280 pages, 11 tables, 3 figures, 6 x 9, November 2023
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Examines how public water service becomes a political tool in Mexican cities and uncovers the politics of water provision in developing democracies

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Most of the world’s population lives in cities in developing countries, where access to basic public services, such as water, electricity, and health clinics, is either inadequate or sorely missing. Water and Politics shows how politicians benefit politically from manipulating public service provision for electoral gain. In many young democracies, politicians exchange water service for votes or political support, rewarding allies or punishing political enemies. Surprisingly, the political problem of water provision has become more pronounced, as water service represents a valuable political currency in resource-scarce environments.

Water and Politics finds that middle-class and industrial elites play an important role in generating pressure for public service reforms.


Veronica Herrera is a Political Scientist and Assistant Professor at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, Urban Planning.

“Fills a gap in the literature on reform by solving a puzzle not explained in previous research, which has tended to focus on the role of crisis, ideology, robust citizen networks, strong leadership, and electoral competition . . . Recommended”
Choice Reviews

Water and Politics brings new empirical insight and understanding about the provision of public services through the experience of water and sanitation reforms in Mexico following democratization. Its analysis is relevant for academics, policymakers, government leaders, and development practitioners alike.”
Environment & Urbanization

“Herrera has written an important book. It illuminates a crucial and hitherto undiscovered dynamic in a crucial policy domain.”
Latin American Politics and Society

“A refreshing effort to unravel the issue of why young democracies can bring about either modern, accountable, and effective governments or deficient, unreliable, and clientelistic ones.”
—Perspectives on Politics

“While few studies have examined how public services—water and sanitation especially—become part of clientelistic and patronage based relationships, this book offers an enriching understanding of the key factors that shape these relationships.”
Journal of Developmental Studies

Winner: American Political Science Association (APSA) 2018 Dennis Judd Best Book Award

- APSA Dennis Judd Best Book Award

Read: Veronica Herrera piece for The Conversation Link | 3/6/2018Read: Veronica Herrera interviewed for the World Policy Journal Link | 8/25/2017Read: Veronica Herrera interviewed for the Swarthmore College Bulletin Link | 8/2/2017Read/listen: Veronica Herrera interviewed for 1400 am Connecticut radio Link | 6/18/2017Read: Veronica Herrera interviewed for UConn Today Link | 5/18/2017Listen: Veronica Herrera interviewed for the New Books Network Link | 3/6/2017Read: Veronica Herrera in the Washington Post Monkey Cage Link | 2/28/2017