Discussion Paper Details

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Title: The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-class Franchise

Author(s): Sascha O. Becker and Erik Hornung

Publication Date: August 2019

Keyword(s): Elites, inequality, political economy, Prussia and Three-class Franchise

Programme Area(s): Economic History

Abstract: Did the Prussian three-class franchise, which politically over-represented the economic elite, affect policy-making? Combining MP-level political orientation, derived from all roll call votes in the Prussian parliament (1867??1903), with constituency characteristics, we analyze how local vote inequality, determined by tax payments, affected policy-making during Prussia's period of rapid industrialization. Contrary to the predominant view that the franchise system produced a conservative parliament, higher vote inequality is associated with more liberal voting, especially in regions with large-scale industry. We argue that industrialists preferred self-serving liberal policies and were able to coordinate on suitable MPs when vote inequality was high.

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Bibliographic Reference

Becker, S and Hornung, E. 2019. 'The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-class Franchise'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.