Democratization under the threat of revolution: Evidence from the great reform act of 1832

Toke S. Aidt, Raphaël Franck

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Abstract

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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)505-547
Number of pages43
JournalEconometrica
Volume83
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Econometric Society.

Keywords

  • Democratization
  • Franchise extension
  • Great reform act of 1832
  • Threat of revolution

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