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Incumbent Effects and Partisan Alignment in Local Elections: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis Using Italian Data


  • Emanuele Bracco
  • Francesco Porcelli
  • Michela Redoano


This paper provides a simple model to explain effect of political alignment between different tiers of government on policy choices and election outcomes. We derive precise predictions that, as long as voters attribute most of the credit for providing public goods to the local government: (i) aligned municipalities receive more grants, set lower taxes and provide more public goods, (ii) the probability that the local incumbent is re-elected is higher in aligned municipalities compared to not aligned ones. Our empirical strategy to identify the alignment effects is built upon the fact that being or not aligned changes discontinuously at 50% of the vote share of local parties. This allows us to use sharp regression discontinuity design. Our theoretical predictions are largely confirmed using a new dataset on Italian public finance and electoral data at the central and local level.

Suggested Citation

  • Emanuele Bracco & Francesco Porcelli & Michela Redoano, 2013. "Incumbent Effects and Partisan Alignment in Local Elections: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis Using Italian Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 4061, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4061

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Monika Köppl-Turyna, 2016. "Opportunistic politicians and fiscal outcomes: the curious case of Vorarlberg," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 168(3), pages 177-216, September.
    2. Bracco, Emanuele & Lockwood, Ben & Porcelli, Francesco & Redoano, Michela, 2015. "Intergovernmental grants as signals and the alignment effect: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 78-91.
    3. Emanuele Bracco & Alberto Brugnoli, 2012. "Runoff vs. plurality," Working Papers 23767067, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.

    More about this item


    fiscal federalism; political competition; accountability;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General


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