Abandon Ship? Party Brands and Politicians’ Responses to a Political Scandal, with B. Geys and S. Galletta, Journal of Public Economics 2020
How do politicians react to a political earthquake?
In this article, we study politicians’ responses to the main political scandal in Italian recent history (“Clean Hands”), and overcome endogeneity concerns by analysing the local implications of this national corruption scandal.
We find that local politicians withdraw support for incumbents in parties hit by Clean Hands – inducing early government terminations in such municipalities.
Politicians in parties hit by the scandal exhibit higher rates of party switching and lower re-running rates. By decreasing the value of the party “brand”, scandals thus become transmitted across politicians and levels of government via partisan cues.
Moreover, in the long term, municipalities hit by the scandal have lower corruption and voter turnout.
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