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Term limit extension and electoral participation. Evidence from a diff-in-discontinuities design at the local level in Italy

Marco Alberto De Benedetto and Maria De Paola ()

European Journal of Political Economy, 2019, vol. 59, issue C, 196-211

Abstract: We study the effect of term limits on voter turnout in Italian local 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 cut-off 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: 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.

Keywords: Term limits; Diff-in-discontinuities; Voter turnout; Political competition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C21 D72 H70 J78 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Related works:
Working Paper: TERM LIMIT EXTENSION AND ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION. EVIDENCE FROM A DIFF-IN-DISCONTINUITIES DESIGN AT THE LOCAL LEVEL IN ITALY (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Term Limit Extension and Electoral Participation: Evidence from a Diff-in-Discontinuities Design at the Local Level in Italy (2018) Downloads
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