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Mafia in the Ballot Box

Posted on 14 November 2016

Giacomo De Luca’s paper “Mafia in the Ballot Box” has been accepted for publication in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

We study the impact of organized crime on electoral results analyzing in detail the national parliamentary elections in Sicily for the period 1946-92. We document ​a significant support given by the Sicilian mafia to the Christian Democratic Party​, the incumbent party in Italy during the period considered, ​when the electoral competition by the Communist party strengthened. ​​

We also provide suggestive evidence that, in exchange for its electoral support, the mafia obtained economic advantages in the construction sector. ​Our findings suggest that elections in areas plagued by organized crime ​activities may be far from free and fair, and that politicians may not resist the temptation of banking the support of organized crime, particularly in contested elections.