The great reform act of 1832 and british democratization

Thomas Ertman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article focuses on the brief period (1828-1835) of intense political change in the years immediately before and after the Great Reform Act of 1832 as a critical juncture within the process of British democratization. This change was set in motion by a movement to extend the rights of religious minorities, but soon took on a dynamic of its own and led, quite unexpectedly, to a fundamental break in the constitutional order of the United Kingdom. This reform episode deserves to be classified as a critical juncture for three reasons: First, it put an end to executive control of the legislature through pocket boroughs and placemen and ushered in a culture of national political participation; second, it brought forth a new source of order in politics, a two-party system built around religious cleavages; and finally, it acted as both an impetus and a model for future electoral expansions (1867, 1884, 1918). In the second part of the article, the reach of 1832 is explored by examining the relevance of this critical juncture to the triumph and successful defense of democracy in Britain during the interwar period.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1000-1022
    Number of pages23
    JournalComparative Political Studies
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - 2010


    • 1832 Reform Act
    • Critical junctures
    • Democratization
    • Religious cleavage
    • United Kingdom

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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