Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour?

55 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2020

See all articles by Michele Cantarella

Michele Cantarella

Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE); European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Statistics

Nicolò Fraccaroli

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs; University of Rome Tor Vergata, Faculty of Economics, Department of Economics, Law and Institutions

Roberto Volpe

Italian Ministry of Economic Development

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 17, 2020

Abstract

We study the impact of fake news on votes for populist parties in the Italian elections of 2018. Our empirical strategy exploits the presence of Italian- and German-speaking voters in the Italian region of Trentino Alto-Adige/Südtirol as an exogenous source of assignment to fake news exposure. Using municipal data, we compare the effect of exposure to fake news on the vote for populist parties in the 2013 and 2018 elections. To do so, we introduce a novel indicator of populism using text mining on the Facebook posts of Italian parties before the elections. We find that exposure to fake news is positively correlated with vote for populist parties, but that less than half of this correlation is causal. Our findings support the view that exposure to fake news (i) favours populist parties, but also that (ii) it is positively correlated with prior support for populist parties, suggesting a self-selection mechanism.

Keywords: Fake News, Political Economy, Electoral Outcomes, Populism

JEL Classification: C26, D72, P16

Suggested Citation

Cantarella, Michele and Fraccaroli, Nicolò and Volpe, Roberto Geno, Does Fake News Affect Voting Behaviour? (June 17, 2020). CEIS Working Paper No. 493, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3629666 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3629666

Michele Cantarella

Università degli studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) ( email )

Largo Marco Biagi 10
Modena, Modena 42121
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/michelecantarella1992/

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Statistics ( email )

Taunustor 2
60311 Frankfurt am Main
United States

Nicolò Fraccaroli (Contact Author)

Brown University - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs ( email )

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://watson.brown.edu/rhodes/people/nicol-fraccaroli

University of Rome Tor Vergata, Faculty of Economics, Department of Economics, Law and Institutions ( email )

Via Columbia, 2
Rome, 00133
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/view/nfraccaroli/home

Roberto Geno Volpe

Italian Ministry of Economic Development ( email )

Via Vittorio Veneto, 33
Rome, Rome 00187
Italy

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