Elections vs. political competition: The case of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Elections vs. political competition: The case of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth In models of political economy, institutionalization of free and open elections is presented as infusing competition into a 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 in the Kingdom in 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. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Review of Austrian Economics Springer Journals

Elections vs. political competition: The case of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Economics / Management Science; Public Finance & Economics; Political Science, general; Methodology and the History of Economic Thought
ISSN
0889-3047
eISSN
1573-7128
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11138-014-0266-8
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In models of political economy, institutionalization of free and open elections is presented as infusing competition into a 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 in the Kingdom in 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.

Journal

The Review of Austrian EconomicsSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 14, 2014

References

  • Why did the west extend the franchise? Democracy, inequality, and growth in historical perspective
    Acemoglu, D.; Robinson, J. A.

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