Revolution, Elite Fear and Electoral Institutions

Haakon Gjerløw and Magnus Rasmussen

Forthcoming: Comparative Politics


We present a systemic threat theory to explain the introduction of Proportional Representation (PR). If facing a revolutionary threat, incumbents agree to enact electoral reforms such as PR to secure the stability of the system, even if this could imply their own personal electoral loss. We argue that the theory can help explain the largest wave of PR adoptions in history, namely in the years immediately after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. Incumbents came to over-estimate the true revolutionary threat elsewhere in Europe. Simultaneously, reformist parliamentarian socialists came to push for PR to weaken the radicals within their party. Incumbents and reformist socialists could therefore support the same system. We test this using qualitative and quantitative data from Norway’s adoption of PR in 1919.

A new geocoded dataset on industrial conflict in Norway

Since 1900, the Norwegian trade union confederation "Arbeidernes Faglige Landsorganisasjon" (AFL) recorded all strikes, lockouts and blockades that they were a part of, and published this as tables in their yearly reports. They included information on the location, the enterprise involved, the duration of the conflict, how many workers were involved and how much it cost. With the help of Optical Character Recognition, we have converted these tables into a dataset.

The datasets and all replication materials will be made available upon publication.