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Term Limit Extension and Electoral Participation: Evidence from a Diff-in-Discontinuities Design at the Local Level in Italy

Author

Listed:
  • De Benedetto, Marco Alberto

    () (Birkbeck, University of London)

  • De Paola, Maria

    () (University of Calabria)

Abstract

We study the effect of term limits on voter turnout in local Italian elections. Since 2014 the Italian law allows mayors in municipalities with a population size lower than 3,000 inhabitants to re-run for a third term, whereas mayors in cities with a number of residents above the cutoff still face a two-term limit. The introduction of the reform permits us to implement a difference-in-discontinuities design exploiting the before/after with the discontinuous policy change. We find that voters negatively react to the introduction of the reform and in particular electoral participation decreases by about 5 percentage points in municipalities eligible to the treatment compared to municipalities in the control group. This negative effect is essentially driven by a decrease in the political competition. We also find that relaxing term limits does not improve the quality of politicians running for election.

Suggested Citation

  • De Benedetto, Marco Alberto & De Paola, Maria, 2018. "Term Limit Extension and Electoral Participation: Evidence from a Diff-in-Discontinuities Design at the Local Level in Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 11865, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11865
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    Keywords

    diff-in-discontinuities; voter turnout; political competition;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)

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