Follow the Leader: The Electoral Effect of the COVID-19 Economic Lockdown
34 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2021
Date Written: November 8, 2021
We study the effect of the COVID-19 economic lockdown on electoral outcomes using data on municipal elections in Italy. We implement a difference-in-differences approach that exploits the variation across municipalities in the share of inactive workers due to the economic lockdown introduced by the central government. We show that the economic lockdown negatively affected the electoral performance of far-right populist parties not aligned with the central government and positively affected center-left parties aligned with the central government. Conversely, the restrictions did not affect the vote shares of populist parties aligned with the national government, 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 can explain this rally "round the flag" effect.
Keywords: COVID-19, Elections, Voting behaviour, Vote share
JEL Classification: D70, D72, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation