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Electoral rules and voter turnout

  • Guglielmo Barone


    (Bank of Italy)

  • Guido de Blasio


    (Bank of Italy)

The paper investigates the effect of electoral rules on voter turnout. It focuses on Italian municipalities, where voting schemes are differentiated by the size of the city: a single ballot system applies to municipalities with less than 15,000 inhabitants, while a dual ballot system is in place above that threshold. By exploiting this discontinuity, the paper finds that the dual ballot increases participation at the local polls, with an estimated effect of about 1 percentage point. The increase in voter turnout is associated with wider political representation, politicians of higher quality, greater fiscal discipline, and more robust local development. Finally, we document that the higher political participation triggered by local electoral rules extends to nationwide voting contexts.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 833.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_833_11
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  1. Amrita Dhillon & Susana Peralta, 2002. "Economic Theories Of Voter Turnout," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F332-F352, June.
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  4. Chamon, Marcos & Mello, João Manoel Pinho de & Firpo, Sergio Pinheiro, 2010. "Electoral rules, political competition and fiscal spending: regression discontinuity evidence from brazilian municipalities," Textos para discussão 208, Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
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