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London School of Economics 

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Department of Political Science, Columbia University
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Abstracts

 

Dual Mandates, Patronage, and Partisanship

How does simultaneously holding two elected offices affect individual incentives for party investment in a new democracy? In this paper, I show that a pro-democratic institution initially designed to connect local and national politics – cumul des mandats, or the ability to hold both a local and national elected office – had negative effects on the development of the nascent party system in France. Using a microlevel dataset of electoral outcomes, roll-call votes, and politician characteristics from the Third Republic (1870-1940), I show that holding a local office gave national legislators access to an external political network and patronage opportunities that served as a substitute for the benefits a party would typically provide. Using a regression discontinuity design, I find that legislators with a dual mandate were less likely to invest in early party institutions, as measured by partisan voting and support of key legislative reforms that strengthen parties. Yet I also establish that such negative effects can be mitigated with specific institutional changes that give selective incentives to parties. This paper’s contribution is to estimate the causal effect of multiple office-holding on partisan outcomes, as well as present original results using a clear and precise measure of party investment. 

 

Cabinet, Committees and Careers in 19th century France (with Brenda Van Coppenolle, LSE)

Committees play an important role in the legislature of any established democracy, and an equally important role in the career prospects of ambitious politicians. Can committees aid in the professionalization of the political class in a new democracy, typically characterized by weak party organizations and fledgling institutions? This paper takes advantage of a semi- natural experiment in the Chamber of Deputies of the French Third Republic (1870-1940), namely random assignment in the committee election process, to estimate the effect of committee membership on both the electoral and legislative fortunes of deputies. We demonstrate that obtaining a place on the budget committee greatly increases the chance that a deputy will later obtain a ministerial position. Against conventional wisdom, we do not find an effect on either future party leadership or reelection; these results echo findings from similar studies using quasi- experimental designs to study endogenous legislative institutions. We conclude that committees can form a stepping stone to higher office, even in the absence of disciplined parties. 

 

Political Dynasties and Electoral Reform (with Carlos Velasco, Princeton)

What is the impact of electoral reform on the prospects of political dynasties in a democracy? Existing studies have only focused on reforms that either do not affect the advantages of political dynasties or involve changes that prevent deriving clear theo- retical predictions. Instead, we exploit the 1885 electoral reform in France, explicitly designed to curb the local advantage often utilized by political dynasties. Contrary to the expectations at the time, we argue that the content of the reform (an expansion of the electorate size and an increase in district magnitude) exacerbated the advantage of dynastic politicians. First, because of their advantage in personal resources, dynastic politicians were position to withstand the increase in the size of constituencies. Sec- ond, the change in district magnitude increased the premium on the personal qualities candidates needed to win office. Consistent with these predictions the paper has two main findings: the re-election rate of non-dynastic politicians decreased significantly, and the probability of a second ballot increased at a lower rate for dynastic politicians following the reform.