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Faculty of Economics

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Aidt, T. S. and Franck, R.

Democratization under the threat of revolution: evidence from the Great Reform Act of 1832

Econometrica

Vol. 83(2) pp. 505-547 (2015)

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 10km 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.

Keywords: Democratization, Franchise extension, Threat of revolution, Great Reform Act 1832

JEL Codes: D72

Author links: Toke Aidt  

Publisher's Link: https://doi.org/10.3982/ECTA11484



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