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How to Get the Snowball Rolling and Extend the Franchise: Voting on the Great Reform Act of 1832

  • Aidt , T.S.
  • Franck, R.

This paper suggests a new approach to analyze 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 econometric analysis yields four main results. First, modernization theory only receives mixed 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. However, it also appears that self-interest and political expedience explained the votes of many Members of Parliament.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 0832.

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Length: 24
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0832
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  5. Toke Aidt & Peter Jensen, 2009. "Tax structure, size of government, and the extension of the voting franchise in Western Europe, 1860–1938," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 362-394, June.
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  18. Humberto Llavador & Robert Oxoby, 2003. "Partisan competition, growth and the franchise," Economics Working Papers 730, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 2004.
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