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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, 41 (1). 1 - 20. ISSN 0266-3554

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Identification Number: 10.1093/gerhis/ghac073


Scholars agree that a core feature of the political style of the Holy Roman Empire was the focus on consensus, without which policy-making at the level of the Empire would have been impossible. This 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 vulnerability was a product of the diet’s open and sequential voting procedure, which allowed the bandwagon effect to distort outcomes. An analysis of the votes cast in the princes’ college at 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: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
J Political Science > JC Political theory
JEL classification: N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N43 - Europe: Pre-1913
H - Public Economics > H1 - Structure and Scope of Government > H11 - Structure, Scope, and Performance of Government
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2021 15:39
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 06:45

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