MEHR Seminar: Toke Aidt, University of Cambridge, 'Democratization under the threat of revolution: Evidence from the Great Reform Act of 1832'

Abstract: This paper proposes a test of the "threat of revolution" hypothesis that links democratisation to the threat of political violence based on evidence from the Great Reform Act adopted by the British Parliament in 1832. It relies on a time-varying constituency-specific measure of the threat of revolution and uses a panel data strategy with fixed effects and instrumental variables. We find that political violence affected the outcome of the critical 1831 general election which was essential for the subsequent success of the reform process. However, the vote of the Members of Parliament on the bill was not influenced by political violence but by orderly social contention such as demonstrations, political meetings, and petitions.