Uncertain Victor, Better Candidates
ECONOMICS |

Uncertain Victor, Better Candidates

ONLY WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING: POLITICAL PARTIES LINE UP THE BEST POLITICIANS IN ELECTORAL CONSTITUENCIES WHERE COMPETITION IS MOST UNCERTAIN, REWARDING LOYALTY WITH SAFE SEATS, ACCORDING TO RESEARCH BY VINCENZO GALASSO AND TOMMASO NANNICINI

Electoral competition is good for the selection of politicians. When it is strong, good politicians are more likely to be allocated to the most contestable districts. Vincenzo Galasso and Tommaso Nannicini, both Full Professors of Economics at Bocconi University, faced the issue in two papers on the Italian electoral system.

In Competing on good politicians, they used a dataset on all Italian members of Parliament elected in majoritarian districts in 1994, 1996, and 2001, with the electoral law nicknamed Mattarellum. First, they split politicians between high-valence and low-valence ones. They used a set of qualitative and quantitative measures to do it, such as the years of schooling that capture the acquisition of human capital, the experience in local governments, the pre-election income, a proxy of ability, and the absenteeism rate in parliamentary votes. “The results point out that high-valence politicians are allocated to non-safe districts, those where the margin of victory in previous elections was thin. Parties that centralize the recruitment of candidates send their best politicians to contestable districts. Low-valence politicians are assigned to easier electoral contests”.

In So Closed: Political Selection in Proportional Systems, Galasso and Nannicini analyze the political selection in the closed list proportional system used in Italy in the 2013 general election. In this system, candidates appearing at the top of the electoral list are likely to get a Parliament seat. It turns out that parties allocate loyal, not expert politicians to the safe seats. “Whenever the electoral competition is weak, the political selection gets worse”.

Read the other stories on the topic of Human Capital:
We Are Who We Hire    
Gig Economy: What Rights for Workers?  
The Chosen People who Invested on Themselves
Not only CEOs, the Importance of the Manager
Investing Time in Children Pays
The Importance of Incentives
The Consequences of Uncertainty on Families
Autonomy in Decision Making: the Right Balance is Required
The Geography of Human Capital
Not all Directors have the Same Value

 

by Claudio Todesco
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