Judicial Anti-Corruption Enforcement Can Enhance Electoral Accountability
25 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2016 Last revised: 2 Sep 2016
Date Written: July 31, 2016
Can court decisions affect electoral behavior? Can they enhance electoral accountability by signaling to voters that integrity considerations are important? In this paper we utilize a unique political-legal situation that emerged in 2013 shortly before the municipal elections in Israel. Then, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the immediate removal of three mayors from their office after they had been indicted for charges of corruption. We take advantage of this unique setting to estimate the effect of anti-corruption judicial activity on electoral sanctioning of low-integrity incumbents. Relying on actual voting data from 65 Israeli cities for the 2008 and 2013 municipal elections, we apply a difference-in-difference estimation to test this effect. The results indicate that the electoral effect of judicial anti-corruption activity on the vote-share of low-integrity incumbents is negative and substantively significant. We further demonstrate that this effect is not the result of a change in turnout. These findings suggest that the integrity salience cue created by the court’s actions caused the biggest recorded effect on electoral sanctioning of corruption, suggesting that these judicial bodies carry the capacity to influence electoral behavior.
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