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Incumbency, Party Identity and Governmental Lead: Evidence for Heterogeneous Incumbency Effects for Germany

  • Florian Ade
  • Ronny Freier
  • Christian Odendahl
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    Do incumbents in an election have an advantage, and if so, are these advantages heterogeneous across parties or government and opposition? We first present a theoretical discussion on the possible heterogeneity of incumbency effects in a pure two-party system. Then, we estimate the incumbency effect for the direct district candidates in German federal and state elections using a regression discontinuity design (RDD). When studying the heterogeneity in these effects, we find that incumbents from both large parties, the center-right CDU and the center-left SPD, have an advantage only if the SPD is in government. This effect is robust and shows even in state elections that are unrelated to federal elections - calling into question the findings of average incumbency effects in the literature. Because this effect is stronger in the East than in the West and only shows post reunification, we hypothesise that the emergence of the socialist party "The Left" may be behind this heterogeneity.

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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.390438.de/dp1177.pdf
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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1177.

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    Length: 38 p.
    Date of creation: 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1177
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    1. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    2. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2007. "Do Political Parties Matter? Evidence from U.S. Cities," NBER Working Papers 13535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jens Hainmueller & Holger Lutz Kern, 2005. "Incumbency Effects in German and British Elections: A Quasi- Experimental Approach," Public Economics 0505009, EconWPA.
    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. 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.
    6. Cox, Gary W. & Katz, Jonathan N., 1995. "Why Did The Incumbency Advantage In U.S. House Elections Grow?," Working Papers 939, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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