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.

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

DE BENEDETTO, Marco Alberto;Maria De Paola
2019

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.
Term limitsDiff-in-discontinuitiesVoter turnoutPolitical competition
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/293056
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