Lockdown and Voting Behaviour: A Natural Experiment on Postponed Elections during the COVID-19 Pandemic
31 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 24, 2020
The goal of this paper is to study the impact of the lockdown policy on voting behaviour, during the COVID-19 pandemic. We focus on France, where a differential lockdown was implemented across departments, based on the local diffusion of the disease. In particular, the country has been divided in two areas, red and green, subject to a “hard” and a “soft” lockdown, respectively. To measure voting behaviour, before and after the policy, we rely on 2020 French municipal elections: the first round took place before the introduction of the restrictions, while the second round was delayed after the end of the lockdown. We estimate a Spatial Regression-Discontinuity-Design model comparing the difference in outcomes between the two electoral rounds, at the border of red and green areas. The main results suggest that lockdown regulations significantly affected electoral outcomes. First, in localities under a harder lockdown, the incumbent’s vote share is higher as well as the consensus for Green parties. Second, voter turnout is larger where more stringent restrictions are adopted. These results suggest that lockdown measures strongly lead citizens to rally around the local incumbent politicians.
Keywords: COVID-19, lockdown, voting behaviour, French municipalities
JEL Classification: H12, I18, D72
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