Corruption Charges and Renomination Chances: Evidence from the 1994 Italian Parliamentary Election
32 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2014
Date Written: August 12, 2014
In 1994, as Italian political elites were implicated in a large-scale anti-corruption judicial campaign, parties chose to face voters’ discontent by renominating some of the allegedly corrupt MPs. Given how extensively the media covered those investigations and how the public appeared to care about corruption, it is puzzling that incumbents investigated for corruption gained a chance to be reelected. I argue that, when corruption is salient to voters, legislators perceived to be more heavily involved in corruption are less likely to be renominated. Based on ongoing investigations, voters cannot establish for sure whether a legislator is corrupt or not. However, they will consider as corrupt legislators heavily implicated in corruption investigations and will punish them electorally, which should induce parties not to renominate them. I test the argument with data from the 1994 Italian parliamentary election, using the number of corruption charges as a proxy for involvement. Controlling for confounding factors such as media coverage, each additional charge is associated with a 6% decrease in renomination chances. Compared to MPs facing a single charge, those facing more charges were 20% less likely to be renominated. Overall, results confirm the negative relationship between perceived involvement in corruption and renomination.
Keywords: corruption, accountability, candidate selection, Italian politics
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