We examine the link between the threat of violence and democratization in the context of the Great Reform Act passed by the British Parliament in 1832. We geo-reference the so-called Swing riots, which occurred between the 1830 and 1831 parliamentary elections, and compute the number of these riots that happened within a 10 km radius of the 244 English constituencies. Our empirical analysis relates this constituency-specific measure of the threat perceptions held by the 344,000 voters in the Unreformed Parliament to the share of seats won in each constituency by pro-reform politicians in 1831. We find that the Swing riots induced voters to vote for pro-reform politicians after experiencing first-hand the violence of the riots.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Econometric Society.
- Franchise extension
- Great reform act of 1832
- Threat of revolution