Vetoing and Inaugurating Policy Like Others Do: Evidence on Spatial Interactions in Voter Initiatives

33 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2015

See all articles by Zareh Asatryan

Zareh Asatryan

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research; University of Freiburg

Annika Havlik

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research; University of Mannheim

Frank Streif

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research

Date Written: August 2015

Abstract

A sizeable literature studies whether governments strategically interact with each other through policy-diffusion, learning, fiscal and yardstick competition. This paper asks whether, in the presence of direct democratic institutions, spatial interactions additionally result from voters’ direct actions. The proposed mechanism is that the voters’ actions in vetoing a decision or inaugurating a preferred policy by a binding initiative in their jurisdiction can potentially have spillover effects on the actions of voters and special interest groups of neighboring jurisdictions. Utilizing data on around 1,800 voter-petitions across over 12,000 German municipalities in 2002-09, we find that a jurisdiction’s probability of hosting a petition is positively driven by the neighbors’ direct democratic activity. These effects are persistent, and are stronger for more visible instruments of direct democracy. The interactions are also mostly driven by petitions in same or similiar policy areas, and are stronger in towns with relatively more per capita newspapers.

Keywords: Direct democracy, spatial spillovers, policy diffusion, citizen preferences

JEL Classification: D72, D78, R50

Suggested Citation

Asatryan, Zareh and Havlik, Annika and Streif, Frank, Vetoing and Inaugurating Policy Like Others Do: Evidence on Spatial Interactions in Voter Initiatives (August 2015). ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 15-054, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2645766 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2645766

Zareh Asatryan (Contact Author)

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

L7
1
Mannheim, 68161
Germany

University of Freiburg ( email )

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Wirtscha.inf.
Kollegiengebäude II, Platz der Alten Synagoge
Freiburg im Breisgau, 79098
Germany

Annika Havlik

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

University of Mannheim ( email )

Mannheim, 68131
Germany

Frank Streif

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

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