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How to get the snowball rolling and extend the franchise: voting on the Great Reform Act of 1832

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  • Toke Aidt

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  • Raphaël Franck

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Abstract

This paper suggests a new approach to analyzing the causes of franchise extension. Based on a new dataset, it provides a detailed econometric study of the Great Reform Act of 1832 in the United Kingdom. The analysis yields four main results. First, modernization theory receives limited support. Second, the reform enjoyed some measure of popular support. Third, the threat of revolution had an asymmetric impact on the voting behavior of the pro-reform Whigs and the anti-reform Tories. While the threat might have convinced reluctant reformers among the Whig politicians—and among their patrons—to support the bill, it seems to have hardened the resistance to reform among the Tories. Fourth, ideology played a critical role. Nevertheless, it also appears that self-interest and political expedience explained the votes of many Members of Parliament. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Toke Aidt & Raphaël Franck, 2013. "How to get the snowball rolling and extend the franchise: voting on the Great Reform Act of 1832," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 229-250, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:155:y:2013:i:3:p:229-250
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-011-9911-y
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    Cited by:

    1. Aidt, Toke S. & Jensen, Peter S., 2014. "Workers of the world, unite! Franchise extensions and the threat of revolution in Europe, 1820–1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 52-75.
    2. Toke Aidt & Raphaël Franck, 2013. "How to get the snowball rolling and extend the franchise: voting on the Great Reform Act of 1832," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 229-250, June.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Tarek A. Hassan & Ahmed Tahoun, 2018. "The Power of the Street: Evidence from Egypt’s Arab Spring," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 31(1), pages 1-42.
    4. repec:kap:copoec:v:28:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10602-017-9241-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Tridimas, George, 2015. "War, disenfranchisement and the fall of the ancient Athenian democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 102-117.
    6. Frederik Toscani, 2013. "Why High Human Capital Makes Good Revolutionaries: The Role of the Middle Classes in Democratisation," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1332, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Aidt, T. S & Grey, F. & Savu, A., 2019. "The Three Meaningful Votes: Voting on Brexit in the British House of Commons," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1979, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Franchise extension; Democratization; The Great Reform Act; D7; H1;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government

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