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AbstractWe study the impact of organized crime on electoral competition. Assuming that the mafia is able to bring votes to the supported party in exchange of money, we show that (i) the strongest party is willing to pay the highest price to secure mafia services; (ii) the volume of electoral trade with the mafia increases with political competition and with the efficiency of the mafia. Studying in detail parliamentary elections in Sicily for the period 1946- 1992, we document the significant support given by the Sicilian Mafia to the Christian Democratic party, starting at least from the 1970s. This is consistent with our theoretical predictions, as political competition became much tighter during the 1970s and the Sicilian mafia experienced an extensive centralization process towards the end of the 1960s, which increased substantially its control of the territory. We also provide evidence that in exchange for its electoral support the mafia got economic advantages for its activities in the construction industry.