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Divided Government versus Incumbency Externality Effect - Quasi-experimental Evidence on Multiple Voting Decisions


  • Florian Ade
  • Ronny Freier


This paper explores the interdependency of political institutions from the voter’s perspective. Specifically, we are interested in: (1) Does the partisan identity of the mayor influence the voter’s decision in the subsequent town council election?; (2) Does this partisan identity influence the vote in ensuing higher level elections?; and (3) Do voters condition their vote for the mayor on the result of the last council election? We rely on a regression discontinuity design focusing on close election outcomes based on municipal level data for Germany. We find (1) that the party of the mayor can receive a bonus of 4-6 percentage points in vote share in the next town council election (depending on the timing of the local elections). (2) The mayor partisan identity does not affect federal or European election outcomes within the same municipality. And (3), we show that voters punish mayor candidates of parties that performed strongly in earlier council elections. Throughout the paper, we explore how the findings can be related to an incumbency externality effect and to the theory of voter preferences for divided government.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Ade & Ronny Freier, 2011. "Divided Government versus Incumbency Externality Effect - Quasi-experimental Evidence on Multiple Voting Decisions," CESifo Working Paper Series 3683, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3683

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2009. "Do Political Parties Matter? Evidence from U.S. Cities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 399-422.
    2. Marcos Chamon & João Manoel Pinho de Mello & Sergio Firpo, 2008. "Electoral rules, political competition and fiscal spending : regression discontinuity evidence from Brazilian municipalities," Textos para discussão 559, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:84:y:1990:i:02:p:513-524_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini, 2013. "Do Better Paid Politicians Perform Better? Disentangling Incentives From Selection," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 369-398, April.
    5. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
    6. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2008. "Do Parties Matter for Economic Outcomes? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1037-1056, September.
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    More about this item


    regression discontinuity design; municipality data; local election results; divided government effect; incumbency externality effect;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism


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