The Winner Takes it All: Investigating the incumbency effect for the Progress Party on the Norwegian municipal level
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With this thesis I explore the incumbency effect for the Progress Party in local Norwegian politics. While there seems to be wide-ranging agreement that incumbency indeed has an effect, whether this is an advantage or disadvantage is somewhat disputed. It is argued that incumbency can have varying effect on different types of parties, and the disadvantage seems to be extra damning for radical right-wing populist parties. Furthermore, most studies of the incumbency effect exist on the national level. Therefore, I wish to examine if having the mayoral position is an advantage or disadvantage electorally for the Progress Party. Due to their status as a radical right-wing populist party, I wish to explore whether or not the given effect is unique for the Progress Party by comparing the results with the remaining established Norwegian political parties. I use a panel dataset that cover the Norwegian municipalities from 1971 to 2016. To inspect the causal effect of gaining a mayoral position I implement the matrix completion method to estimate a synthetic counterfactual unit for comparison. In order to further inspect the results, I additionally examine four municipalities more in-depth, and perform various robustness tests. I find that the effect of incumbency actually is a significant advantage for the Progress Party on the municipal level compared to the synthetic counterfactual unit. The visibility and recognition that incumbents enjoy could therefore lead to an increase in electoral support. Furthermore, this effect is not unique for the Progress Party, but generally translates to the remaining main Norwegian political parties as well. The effect could therefore be symptomatic of local Norwegian politics, rather than any party specific attributes.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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