Competing on Good Politicians

45 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009

See all articles by Vincenzo Galasso

Vincenzo Galasso

University of Lugano; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Tommaso Nannicini

Bocconi University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2009

Abstract

Is electoral competition good for political selection? To address this issue, we introduce a theoretical model in which ideological parties select candidates between party loyalists and experts, and allocate them into the electoral districts. Non-ideological voters, who care about national and local policies, strongly prefer experts. We show that parties compete on good politicians by allocating them to the most contestable districts. Empirical evidence on Italian members of parliament confirms this prediction. We find that politicians with higher ex-ante quality - as measured by years of schooling, previous market income, and local government experience - are more likely to run in a contestable district. Indeed, despite being different on average, the characteristics of politicians belonging to opposite parties converge to high-quality levels in close races. Furthermore, politicians elected in contestable districts make fewer absences in parliament; this is shown to be driven more by a selection effect than by reelection incentives.

Keywords: political competition, political selection, probabilistic voting

JEL Classification: D72, H00

Suggested Citation

Galasso, Vincenzo and Nannicini, Tommaso, Competing on Good Politicians (July 2009). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7363. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1461992

Vincenzo Galasso (Contact Author)

University of Lugano ( email )

Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
Lugano, 6900
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Tommaso Nannicini

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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