University / Organisation : Sapienza University, Department of Economics and Social Science (DiSSE)
Paper or project ? paper
Title : The informational effect of candidates’ traits on voter behavior: Results from an experiment for the October 2021 municipal elections in Rome
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Abstract : Does political transparency influence voting behavior? We created a website (www.elezionitrasparentiroma.it) with a set of transparency information regarding candidates for the recent municipal election of Rome, Italy, in October 2021. The collection of transparency information published on the website derived from a law to curb corruption in Italy that required parties to publish their candidates’ criminal record certificates, curriculum vitae, and previous political experience. We evaluate the campaign’s effectiveness by inviting a randomly selected group of voters to visit the website just a few days before the election. We find that voters who saw the website - compared to another randomly selected group who were not invited and did not visit the website - voted like their counterparts. We do not find effects on the preferences for councilors nor the probability of turnout and expression of preferences. However, voters who visited the website were significantly more likely to vote for the incumbent mayor Virginia Raggi, the Five Star Movement candidate. We read these results in light of the Five Star Movement’s role in promoting political transparency in the last decade. We discuss the limitation of these results and interpretations.