The political economy of the Prussian three-class franchise

Sascha O. Becker, Erik Hornung

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How did the Prussian three-class franchise, which politically over-represented the economic elite, affect policies? Contrary to the predominant and simplistic view that the system allowed the landed elites to capture most political rents, we find that members of parliament from constituencies with a higher vote inequality support more liberal policies, gauging their political orientation from the universe of roll call votes cast in parliament during Prussia's rapid industrialization (1867-1903). Consistent with the characteristics of German liberalism that aligned with economic interests of business, the link between vote inequality and liberal voting is stronger in regions with large-scale industry.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Economic History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

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