What motivates an oligarchic elite to democratize? Evidence from the roll call vote on the great reform act of 1832

Toke S. Aidt, Raphaël Franck

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17 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Great Reform Act of 1832 was a watershed for democracy in Great Britain. We study the vote on 22 March 1831 in the House of Commons to test three competing theories of democratization: Public opinion, political expedience, and threat of revolution. Peaceful agitation and mass-support for reform played an important role. Political expedience also motivated some members of Parliament to support the reform, especially if they were elected in constituencies located in counties that would gain seats. Violent unrest in urban but not in rural areas had some influence on the members of Parliament. Counterfactual scenarios suggest that the reform bill would not have obtained a majority in the House of Commons in the absence of these factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-825
Number of pages53
JournalJournal of Economic History
Volume79
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Economic History Association.

Funding

Aidt Toke S. https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2068-0958 Franck Raphaël Toke S. Aidt is Reader in Economics , Faculty of Economics, Austin Robinson Building , Sidgwick Avenue, CB39DD Cambridge, UK and CESifo, Munich , Germany . E-mail: [email protected] . Raphaël Franck is Senior Lecturer , Department of Economics , Hebrew University of Jerusalem , 91905 Jerusalem , Israel . E-mail: [email protected] . We thank Ann Carlos and Dan Bogart (the editors), several anonymous referees, Ekaterina Borisova and Roger Congleton, as well as participants at various seminars for helpful comments. Raphaël Franck wrote part of this paper as Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Economics at Brown University under funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP 2007–2013) under REA grant agreement PIOF-GA-2012-327760 (TCDOFT). We are also grateful to the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure and the ESRC (Grant RES-000-23-1579) for helping us with shape files for the maps of the ancient counties and parishes. The research was supported by the British Academy (grant JHAG097). Any remaining errors are our own. 24 07 2019 09 2019 79 3 773 825 02 11 2016 29 12 2018 06 01 2019 © The Economic History Association 2019  2019 The Economic History Association Rapha?l Franck wrote part of this paper as Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Economics at Brown University under funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP 2007-2013) under REA grant agreement PIOF-GA-2012-327760 (TCDOFT). We are also grateful to the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure and the ESRC (Grant RES-000-23-1579) for helping us with shape files for the maps of the ancient counties and parishes. The research was supported by the British Academy (grant JHAG097).

FundersFunder number
Brown University
Economic and Social Research CouncilRES-000-23-1579
British AcademyJHAG097
Marie Curie
Research Executive AgencyPIOF-GA-2012-327760
Seventh Framework ProgrammeFP 2007-2013

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