Patronage, social proximity, and instrumentality in the mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo: the union elections explored
ABSTRACT. This article examines which factors influenced the votes of the workers during union elections in the mining companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018. Although incumbent and challenging candidates recurred to lavish spending during the electoral campaign, this behavior had turned out hardly decisive on election day. Rather, workers voted for those candidates who had managed to become perceived as a patron. Patronage was acquired above all by improving the labor conditions and securing jobs. As such, workers voted following an evaluative rationale, although social proximity turned out an important factor as well. Regardless of these free elections and the secret ballot, however, the grip of the management upon the chosen union delegation remains very tight, both during and after the elections.