Caroline Le Pennec (HEC Montréal)
Money and Ideology: Evidence from French Legislative Elections
You can learn more about Caroline Le Pennec by clicking here.
Where and When: Thursday, February 11, at 1pm on Zoom.
Abstract:Do campaign contributions influence politicians? In this article, we study the impact of corporate donations on political discourse and campaign communication among candidates running for legislative seats. We construct a novel dataset that combines data on the amount and source of the donations received by all the candidates to the French Parliament with the content of their campaign manifestos, as well as information on the legislative activity of the elected politicians. We exploit an exogenous historical shock to corporate contributions to estimate their causal impact. Combining a difference-in-differences approach with computational text analysis, we show that receiving more donations from small and local corporate donors encourages candidates to advertise their local presence over national politics in their campaign communication. We also find suggestive evidence that donations lead candidates from extreme parties to moderate their rhetoric — including shifts in the policy topics they advertise. Finally, we find little evidence that corporate donations affect politicians’ rhetoric once elected. Our results suggest that contributions change candidates’ perception of the issues that matter most to their constituents, and the information they choose to communicate with voters before the election.
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