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Voting like your betters: the bandwagon effect in the diet of the Holy Roman Empire

Volckart, Oliver (2023) Voting like your betters: the bandwagon effect in the diet of the Holy Roman Empire. German History. ISSN 0266-3554 (In Press)

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Scholars agree that a core feature of the political style of the Holy Roman Empire was the focus on consensus, without which policies at the level of the Empire were impossible. The present article demonstrates that the consensus on which decisions of the imperial estates was based tended to be superficial and was often in danger of breaking down. This was because the diet’s open and sequential voting procedure allowed the bandwagon effect to distort outcomes. An analysis of the votes cast in the princes’ college of the diet of 1555 shows that low-status members of the college regularly imitated the decisions of high-status voters. Reforming the system would have required accepting that the members of the college were equals – an idea no one was prepared to countenance. Hence, superficial and transitory agreements remained a systematic feature of politics at the level of the Empire.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
JEL classification: H - Public Economics > H1 - Structure and Scope of Government > H11 - Structure, Scope, and Performance of Government
N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N43 - Europe: Pre-1913
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2021 15:39
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2022 10:27

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