A. Lucardi and G. Rosas, “Is the Incumbent Curse the Incumbent’s Fault? Strategic Behavior and Negative Incumbency Effects in Young Democracies”, Electoral Studies, 44, 2016.
Why are incumbents in young democracies cursed? The most convincing explanation emphasizes the role of rent-seeking on the part of politicians, which induces voters to throw them out of office before they become entrenched. Alternatively, the incumbency curse may result from voters’ “balancing” behavior. Without contesting the importance of these explanations, in this paper we explore the possibility that close elections might induce strategic players to behave in ways that worsen these negative incumbency effects.