Do direct elections matter? Quasi-experimental evidence from Germany
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We estimate the causal effect of direct elections on the economic performance of politicians. Candidates running in direct elections to head local governments in the German state of Brandenburg need an absolute majority, and votes for the winner must represent at least 15% of eligible voters. If the quorum is not reached, direct elections are suspended, and local councils appoint the head of government. We examine election outcomes around the quorum, where the form of government is arguably exogenous. Event study results show that the public employment service becomes somewhat more effective under directly elected politicians. However, directly elected politicians do not seem to attract more businesses or expedite administrative acts.
KeywordsDirect elections Constitutions Government form Local government Economic performance Public services Germany
JEL ClassificationD72 H40 H75 R50
We thank two anonymous referees, and Davide Cipullo, Vera Eichenauer, Sebastian Garmann, Robert Lehmann, John Matsusaka, Niklas Potrafke, Johannes Rode, Ivana Tomankova, and the participants of the 7th ifo Dresden Workshop on Regional Economics (2017), the 55th Annual Meeting of the Public Choice Society in Charleston (2018), the EPCS in Rome (2018), the 27th Silvaplana Workshop in Political Economy in Pontresina (2018), the IIPF in Tampere (2018), and the Annual Meeting of the German Economic Association in Freiburg (2018) for helpful comments. Felix Roesel gratefully acknowledges funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG Grant No. 400857762).
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