Elections vs. Political Competition: The Case of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

23 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2013 Last revised: 20 Feb 2014

Date Written: June 11, 2013

Abstract

In models of political economy, institutionalization of free and open elections is presented as infusing competition into a previously monopolized regime. Due to elections, representative democracies are thought to reflect the will of the majority as opposed to the will of the elites. I challenge the idea that elections are a necessary condition of a well-functioning democratic system. In the liberal system of nobles’ democracy of the Kingdom of Poland, noble masses were able to shape political outcomes despite the absence of elections. In fact, it was the adoption of free royal elections in 1573 that undermined the democratic regime and contributed to the demise of the country. I argue that nobles’ democracy emerged from competition between the king and the regional rulers for the loyalty of nobles and that the system collapsed when royal elections disincentivized kings from seeking the nobles’ support.

Keywords: degeneracy, democracy, institutional competition, Kingdom of Poland, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, royal elections

JEL Classification: B25, B53, D85, N43, P16

Suggested Citation

Podemska-Mikluch, Marta, Elections vs. Political Competition: The Case of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (June 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2277687 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2277687

Marta Podemska-Mikluch (Contact Author)

Gustavus Adolphus College ( email )

800 West College Ave.
Saint Peter, MN Mn 56082
United States
(507) 933-6120 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.podemska.com

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