2018/03: Abandon ship? Party brands and politicians’ responses to a political scandal
How do politicians react to a political earthquake? In this article, we study politicians’ – rather than voters’ – responses to the main political scandal in Italian recent history (Tangentopoli), and overcome endogeneity concerns by analysing the local implications of this national corruption scandal. We find that local politicians withdraw support for incumbents in parties hit by Tangentopoli – inducing early government terminations in such municipalities. Moreover, politicians in parties hit by the scandal exhibit higher rates of party switching and lower re-running rates. By decreasing the value of the party “brand”, scandals thus become transmitted across politicians and levels of government via partisan cues.