War and Constitutions: A Bargaining Model
42 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2013 Last revised: 12 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 2013
We conceptualize the modern democratic republic - which combines the somewhat contradictory elements of property rights and universal franchise - as the result of bargaining in the face of military threat. Rich democracies converged on these two foundational pillars of modern constitutionalism because of their efficiency in mobilizing societal resources for war: property rights in exchange for money from the rich, and the right to vote in exchange for manpower from the masses. Once medieval monarchies exhausted their own reserves or their opportunities for plunder, they were forced to grant property rights in return for more resources - taxes or loans. With few and usually brief exceptions, universal male franchise emerged only later with full manpower mobilization, which for some states was the 20th century world wars.
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