Discussion paper

DP13930 The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-class Franchise

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.


Becker, S and E Hornung (2019), ‘DP13930 The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-class Franchise‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 13930. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp13930