Since the public assessment of political leadership is more evident during crisis events, natural disasters have become a plausible explanation for electoral outcomes and public support. This imposes a prominent challenge for developing countries, which are less prepared to deal with catastrophes. This paper proposes a theoretical and an empirical approach to evaluate the unrestricted and conditional impact of natural disasters on the continuity of local authorities. Our theoretical framework treats natural disasters as an exogenous shock that is beyond the incumbent’s influence but provides valuable information to rational voters about high-quality candidates. The empirical approach uses county-level data to test this model by estimating the impact of the Chile earthquake occurred in 2010 on re-election probability and incumbent mayor’s vote share. Aggregate- and individual-level evidence shows that incumbents’ continuity is not unconditionally threatened due to the earthquake, but contingent on conditioning factors that exacerbate or mitigate its negative effect on incumbency advantage. That is, local governments with higher human capital endowments and a better post-disaster assessment are more likely to be re-elected in Chile.
Sustainable Development Goals
Acuña-Duarte, A. A., & Salazar, C. A. (2021). Conditioning Factors for Re-election and Incumbency Advantage after a Natural Disaster: Evidence from a Large-scale Earthquake. The Journal of Development Studies, 1–18. doi:10.1080/00220388.2021.1887477