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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: May 2019

6 - Agricultural Policy and Authoritarian Regime Durability in Germany, 1878-1890


I use a case study of Imperial Germany to probe the causal mechanisms explored cross-nationally in previous chapters. I examine the political causes and consequences of a protectionist shift in agricultural policy that took place in the late 1870s in Imperial Germany and significantly increased domestic food and agricultural produce prices. I analyze an original dataset on the characteristics of German electoral districts, delegates to the Reichstag, and their voting patterns on the protectionist bill. High levels of landholding inequality in German electoral districts were correlated with disproportionate representation of aristocratic landowners and rural conservatives in the Reichstag, while urban interests had little influence. Subsequent gains from the protectionist trade policy fell disproportionately on areas dominated by the Prussian aristocracy and characterized by higher levels of landholding inequality. Agricultural policy thus played a key role in ensuring the aristocracy's political support for the authoritarian government.

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