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The Impact of Incumbency on Turnout: Evidence from Italian Municipalities

  • De Benedetto, Marco Alberto

    ()

    (Birkbeck, University of London)

  • De Paola, Maria

    ()

    (University of Calabria)

We analyze how having an incumbent among candidates affects electoral turnout. We use a rich data set providing information on the electoral results of Italian municipal elections over the period 1993-2011. Endogeneity issues are handled through an instrumental variable approach using the mayor term-limit as an instrument for the presence of the incumbent mayor among candidates. Controlling for electoral competition, we find that the impact of incumbency is heterogeneous across geographical areas: incumbency increases turnout in the South of Italy, whereas we do not find any statistically significant effect in the North. As the positive effect holds true only for southern municipalities endowed with low levels of social capital we speculate that this is the result of incumbent politicians using their resources to establish clienteles.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7612.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7612
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  1. Christine Fauvelle-Aymar & Abel François, 2006. "The impact of closeness on turnout: An empirical relation based on a study of a two-round ballot," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(3), pages 461-483, June.
  2. Tommaso Nannicini & Andrea Stella & Guido Tabellini & Ugo Troiano, 2013. "Social Capital and Political Accountability," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 222-50, May.
  3. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa & Marco Alberto De Benedetto, 2012. "The Impact of Gender Quotas on Electoral Participation: Evidence from Italian Municipalities," Working Papers 201206, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica).
  4. Maria Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2011. "Political competition and politician quality: evidence from Italian municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 547-559, September.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 2007. "Bureaucrats or Politicians? Part II: Multiple Policy Tasks," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000875, David K. Levine.
  6. Yogesh Uppal, 2009. "The disadvantaged incumbents: estimating incumbency effects in Indian state legislatures," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 9-27, January.
  7. Bardhan, Pranab & Mookherjee, Dilip, 2005. "Decentralizing antipoverty program delivery in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 675-704, April.
  8. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo & Lombardo, Rosetta, 2010. "Can gender quotas break down negative stereotypes? Evidence from changes in electoral rules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(5-6), pages 344-353, June.
  9. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  10. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2012. "The Causal Impact Of Closeness On Electoral Participation Exploiting The Italian Dual Ballot System," Working Papers 201203, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica).
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