Perfecting Parliament: Constitutional Reform, Liberalism, and the Rise of Western Democracy

Perfecting Parliament: Constitutional Reform, Liberalism, and the Rise of Western Democracy

by Roger D. Congleton

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Overview

This book explains why contemporary liberal democracies are based on historical templates rather than revolutionary reforms; why the transition in Europe occurred during a relatively short period in the nineteenth century; why politically and economically powerful men and women voluntarily supported such reforms; how interests, ideas, and preexisting institutions affected the reforms adopted; and why the countries that liberalized their political systems also produced the Industrial Revolution. The analysis is organized in three parts. The first part develops new rational choice models of (1) governance, (2) the balance of authority between parliaments and kings, (3) constitutional exchange, and (4) suffrage reform. The second part provides historical overviews and detailed constitutional histories of six important countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, and Germany. In all the countries discussed, liberal democracy emerged from a long series of constitutional reforms, rather than as a quantum leap from authoritarian to democratic governance. The third part provides additional quantitative evidence in support of the theory, summarizes the results, contrasts the approach taken in this book with that of other scholars, and discusses methodological issues.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521151696
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 668
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Roger D. Congleton is Professor of Economics and Senior Research Associate, Center for Study of Public Choice, at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, where he has taught since 1988. His research focuses on the political economy of constitutions and public policy. Professor Congleton's most recent books include 40 Years of Research on Rent Seeking (two edited volumes, 2008), which surveys the theoretical and applied literatures on rent seeking; Democratic Constitutional Design and Public Policy (2006), which surveys the empirical literature on the effects of democratic constitutional design on public policies and economic growth; Improving Democracy through Constitutional Reform (2003), which analyzes the effects of constitutional reform on policies and economic developments within Sweden during the past two centuries; and Politics by Principle Not Interest (Cambridge University Press, 1998, written with Nobel prize winner James Buchanan), which analyzes how a generality rule can improve the performance of democratic governments. In addition to his books, Professor Congleton has published more than 100 papers in academic journals and edited volumes on such topics as the politics of constitutional reform, the importance of information in democratic decision making, the emergence and significance of norms, and analyzed policy-making within national governments and international organizations.

Table of Contents

1. On the origins of Western democracy; 2. Team production, organization, and governance; 3. Organizational governance in the long run; 4. The origins of territorial governance; 5. Constitutional exchange and divided governance; 6. The power of the purse and constitutional reform; 7. Suffrage without democracy; 8. Ideology, interest groups, and adult suffrage; 9. Setting the stage: philosophical, economic and political developments prior to the nineteenth century; 10. Liberalism and reform in the transformative century; 11. Fine-grained constitutional bargaining; 12. An overview of British constitutional history: the English king and the medieval parliament; 13. Constitutional exchange in England: from the Glorious Revolution to universal suffrage; 14. The Swedish transition to democracy; 15. Constitutional reform in the Netherlands: from republic to kingdom, to parliamentary democracy; 16. Germany: constitutional exchange in an emerging state during the nineteenth century; 17. The Japanese transition to democracy and back; 18. The United States, an exception or further illustration?; 19. Quantitative evidence of gradual reform; 20. Ideas, interests, and constitutional reform; Appendix: methodological approach, limits, and extensions.

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