'Set the Night on Fire!' Mafia Violence and Elections in Italy
39 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
Does electoral politics explain variation in criminal violence? This paper aims at analyzing the relation between criminal violence and elections in Italy where a large number of mafia-like groups operate. The empirical analysis is drawn from a unique panel data of monthly intimidation attacks reported by police forces in 105 Italian provinces from 1983 to 2003. Through a diff-in-diff design, the paper finds statistical evidence that as elections get close intimidation attacks increase in those provinces with a strong criminal presence. Moreover, this study examines whether mafia-like groups find opportunities for and constraints in using violence depending on the fragmentation of the political market, and on the effectiveness of law-enforcement. These findings are consistent with a large case study literature documenting the intervention of criminal organizations into elections to capture politicians and to engage in rent-seeking in competition with rival groups. The paper we show that criminal violence during elections is positively correlated with local public spending.
Keywords: Electoral Competition, Electoral Fraud, Organized Crime, Political Violence, Rent-seeking
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