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Electoral thresholds and political outcomes: Quasi-experimental evidence from a reform in Germany

  • Baskaran, Thushyanthan
  • da Fonseca, Mariana Lopes

In 2001, the state parliament of the German federal state of Hesse abolished a 5 percent legal electoral threshold for local elections. This reform had a stronger effect on municipalities with larger councils because implicit electoral thresholds decrease with council size. Exploiting discontinuities in a state law that exogenously maps population to council size, we implement a difference in discontinuity design to study the political consequences of abolishing an electoral threshold. The dataset covers all 426 Hessian municipalities over the period 1989-2011. Our results suggest that the seat and vote shares of small parties increased in municipalities that were affected more strongly by the abolishment. In addition, municipalit ies exposed to stronger treatments reduced their council size, presumably to limit political competition.

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Paper provided by University of Goettingen, Department of Economics in its series Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers with number 177.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:177
Contact details of provider: Postal: Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen
Web page: http://www.cege.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/

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  1. Baskaran, Thushyanthan, 2012. "The flypaper effect: evidence from a natural experiment in Hesse," MPRA Paper 37144, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Peter Egger & Marko Koethenbuerger, 2010. "Government Spending and Legislative Organization: Quasi-experimental evidence from Germany," EPRU Working Paper Series 2010-09, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  4. Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini & Ugo Troiano, 2012. "Policy Responses to Fiscal Restraints: A Difference-in-Discontinuities Design," CESifo Working Paper Series 3999, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Amy Finkelstein, 2005. "The Aggregate Effects of Health Insurance: Evidence from the Introduction of Medicare," NBER Working Papers 11619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jon H. Fiva & Olle Folke, 2011. "Mechanical and Psychological Effects of Electoral Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 3505, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
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