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Incumbency as the Major Advantage: The Electoral Advantage for Parties of Incumbent Mayors

  • Ronny Freier
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    This paper provides empirical evidence on the party incumbency advantage in mayoral elections in Germany. Using a regression discontinuity design on a data set of about 25,000 elections, I estimate a causal incumbency effect of 38-40 percentage points in the probability of winning the next mayor election. The electoral advantage is larger for fulltime mayors, increasing in municipality size, independent of the specific partisanship of the mayor and constant between 1945 and 2010. Moreover, it increases with local spending hikes and it is independent of municipal debt. I also illustrate the causal dynamic effects of the incumbent status on distant future elections and therefore evaluate the global properties of the LATE estimate. Finally, I show that the total effect is due to an effect on the probability that the party participates in the next election (about 40% of the total effect) and an effect on the vote share (about 60%).

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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1147.

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    Length: 30 p.
    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1147
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    1. Fernanda Brollo & Tommaso Nannicini, 2010. "Tying Your Enemy’s Hands in Close Races: The Politics of Federal Transfers in Brazil," Working Papers 358, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    2. Jordahl, Henrik, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Voting in Sweden," Ratio Working Papers 16, The Ratio Institute.
    3. 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, 09.
    4. 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.
    5. Jens Hainmueller & Holger Lutz Kern, 2005. "Incumbency Effects in German and British Elections: A Quasi- Experimental Approach," Public Economics 0505009, EconWPA.
    6. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2007. "Do Political Parties Matter? Evidence from U.S. Cities," NBER Working Papers 13535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
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