DP13871 A Positive Effect of Political Dynasties: the Case of France's 1940 Enabling Act

Author(s): Jean Lacroix, Pierre-Guillaume Méon, Kim Oosterlinck
Publication Date: July 2019
Keyword(s): Autocratic reversals, democratic dynasties, voting behavior, World War II
JEL(s): D72, H89, N44
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13871

The literature on political dynasties in democracies usually considers them as a homogenous group and points out their negative effects. By contrast, we argue that they may differ according to their origin and that democratic dynasties â??â?? those whose founder was a defender of democratic ideals â??â?? show stronger support for democracy. This claim is backed by an analysis of the vote by the French parliament on July 10, 1940, of an enabling act granting full power to Marshal Philippe Pétain, thereby ending the Third Republic. Using newly collected data from the biographies of the members of the then parliament, we observe that members of a democratic dynasty were more likely, by a margin of between 7.6 and 9.0 percentage points, to oppose the act than were members of other political dynasties or elected representatives belonging to no political dynasty. We report suggestive evidence showing that the effect of democratic dynasties was possibly driven by internalized democratic norms and beliefs.