Democratizing urban governance through mayoral term limits: Quasi-experimental evidence from a reform in Chilean municipalities

Karel Kouba, Tomas Dosek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Term limits on elected mayors are often advocated because they eliminate the incumbency advantage and promote higher representativeness and citizen participation through a more open and reinvigorated electoral competition in local governments. We examine whether key dimensions of local democracy (election competitiveness, turnout, invalid voting, descriptive representation of women) are affected by the imposition of term limits. This article uses a quasi-experimental technique (difference-in-differences design) which leverages a unique and rare institutional reform in Chile that exogenously imposed term limits on some - but not all - mayors in 2020. The as-good-as random assignment of municipalities to either group allows to exploit comparisons which yield robust causal estimates. The overall contribution of term limits to local democracy has been positive because they promote electoral competition, the emergence of female candidates and voter participation, as well as reduce invalid voting rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104446
JournalCities
Volume140
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Keywords

  • Local democracy
  • Local government
  • Mayors
  • Term limits
  • Urban governance

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