2010/45: Lobbying, political competition, and local land supply: recent evidence from Spain
We analyze whether local land supply is influenced by the degree of political competition, and interpret the findings as being indicative of the influence wielded by land development lobbies. We use a new database including both political and land supply data for more than 2,000 Spanish municipalities for the period 2003-2007. In Spain, land use policies are largely a local responsibility with municipalities having periodically to pass comprehensive land use plans. The main policy variable in these plans, and the one analyzed here, is the amount of land classified for potential development. We measure local political competition as the margin of victory of the incumbent government. We instrument this variable using the number of votes obtained by parties represented in local government when standing at the first national legislative elections following the re-establishment of democracy, and the number of votes they actually obtained regionally at the national legislative elections. The results indicate that stiffer political competition does indeed reduce the amount of new land designated for development. This effect is found to be most marked in suburbs, in towns with a high percent of commuters and homeowners, and in municipalities governed by the left.