Is Populism Reversible? Evidence From Italian Local Elections During The Pandemic

73 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2023 Last revised: 18 Aug 2023

See all articles by Massimo Bordignon

Massimo Bordignon

Universita Cattolica; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Federico Franzoni

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan - Graduate School in Public Economics (DEFAP)

Matteo Gamalerio

University of Barcelona - Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB)

Date Written: August 17, 2023

Abstract

We study the effect of economic insecurity on electoral outcomes using data on municipal elections in Italy. We implement a difference-in-differences approach that exploits exogenous variation across municipalities in the share of inactive workers due to the economic lockdown introduced by the central government to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. We show that lockdown-induced economic insecurity positively affected the electoral performance of progressive and left-wing parties, while it negatively affected conservative and far-right parties. Conversely, we find no effect for the populist Five Star Movement, local independent parties (i.e., Civic Lists), and electoral turnout. We provide evidence that extraordinary economic measures introduced by the central government to compensate workers for the economic insecurity can explain this shift in partisanship toward the left and the increasing support for pro-EU parties, away from euro-skeptic and populist forces.

Keywords: COVID-19, Elections, Voting Behaviour, Populism, Economic Insecurity

JEL Classification: D70, D72, D91

Suggested Citation

Bordignon, Massimo and Franzoni, Federico and Gamalerio, Matteo, Is Populism Reversible? Evidence From Italian Local Elections During The Pandemic (August 17, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4331908 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4331908

Massimo Bordignon

Universita Cattolica ( email )

20123 Milano
Italy
+39-2-5836-3300/1 (Phone)
+39-2-5836-3302 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Federico Franzoni (Contact Author)

Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan - Graduate School in Public Economics (DEFAP) ( email )

Via Necchi 5
Milano, MI Milan 20123
Italy

Matteo Gamalerio

University of Barcelona - Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB) ( email )

c/ Tinent Coronel Valenzuela, 1-11
Barcelona, 08034
Spain

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