A new rationale is presented for why an elite may want to expand the franchise even in the absence of threats to the established order. Expanding the franchise can turn politicians away from particularistic politics based on ad personam redistribution within the elite and foster competition based on programs with diffuse benefits. If these programs are valuable, a majority of the elite votes in favor of an extension of the franchise despite the absence of a threat from the disenfranchised. We argue that the evolution of public spending and of political competition in nineteenth century Britain is consistent with our model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Economics and Econometrics