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Solving Peel's Puzzle: Repeal of the Corn Laws and Institutional Preservation
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Jul., 1995), pp. 393-408
Published by: Comparative Politics, Ph.D. Programs in Political Science, City University of New York
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/422226
Page Count: 16
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Britain's repeal of the Corn Laws remains a puzzle within comparative political economy. While explanations have turned on international considerations, economic factors, and pressure group politics, none accounts for Robert Peel's seemingly irrational decision to sacrifice his government for the sake of a policy he long had opposed. Repeal was not a first-order preference for Peel. It was a by-product of his larger objective to preserve fundamental tenets of the British constitution—aristocratic government and a limited franchise—in the face of threat. Repeal of the Corn Laws must be understood in the context of split-level rationality, as a policy game within a game of institutional preservation.
Comparative Politics © 1995 Comparative Politics, Ph.D. Programs in Political Science, City University of New York