Elena Costas-Pérez, Albert Solé-Ollé, Pilar Sorribas-Navarro
2011/09 : Corruption scandals, press reporting, and accountability. Evidence from Spanish mayors
We analyse the effects of local corruption on electoral outcomes with Spanish data. Based upon press reports published between 1996 and 2009, we are able to construct a novel database on corruption scandals and news related to bribe-taking in exchange for amendments to land use plans. Our data show that local corruption scandals first emerged during the 1999-2003 term, but that they peaked just before the 2007 elections. We estimate an equation for the incumbent’s vote share at this electoral contest and find the average vote loss after a corruption scandal to be around 4%, and the effect to be greater for cases receiving wide newspaper coverage (up to 9%). The effects found for the 2003 elections are much lower. When we consider cases in which the incumbent has been charged with corruption and press coverage has been extensive the vote loss can rise to 12%. However, press reports have a negative impact on the vote even when no judicial charges have been brought.