Taking the Leap: Voting, Rhetoric, and the Determinants of Electoral Reform
University of Texas at Austin - Department of Government
Washington University in Saint Louis - Department of Political Science
January 20, 2013
The Second Reform Act ushered in the age of democratic politics in the UK by expanding the franchise and providing new representation to industrialized cities. Using unsupervised topic model analysis of parliamentary debates and quantitative analysis of roll call votes, we investigate why electoral reform passed the House of Commons in 1867. Specifically we consider why reform passed under a Conservative government but failed under a Liberal government despite no election or change in membership of the House of Commons. We find that party, not constituency, is responsible for explaining votes on reform and that it was the reduction in the number of aspects in the debate over reform that ultimately allowed Conservatives to pass electoral reform.
Supplemental Information for this paper are available at the following URL: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2203723
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: electoral reform, Second Reform Act, legislative behavior, topic models, agenda dimensionalityworking papers series
Date posted: January 5, 2012 ; Last revised: January 28, 2013
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