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Electoral Systems, Selection, and Re-election: Evidence from Italian Municipalities

Giorgio Gulino

The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2021, vol. 37, issue 3, 534-570

Abstract: Using micro-level data on local Italian elections and exploiting a discontinuity at a population cutoff, I study the effect of electoral systems on politician selection and re-election. Evidence shows that the mayor’s probability of re-election is 25 percentage points higher in majoritarian systems than in proportional systems. Ruling coalitions elected under the majoritarian system enjoy a stable and long-lasting majority, attract more central transfers, and invest more in public libraries. While mayors elected under the two different electoral systems do not differ in any observable characteristics, they do tend to embark on a different political careers once they lose their municipal office. Surprisingly, mayors elected under the proportional system have a higher probability of being elected to regional offices after their mandate. (JEL D72, H70, P16)

Date: 2021
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