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date: 30 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Reluctant democrats who feel unable to reject demands for competitive elections resort to various tactics to subvert the electoral process. How authoritarians succeed in preserving the appearance of legislative accountability while avoiding its reality is a question that needs to be addressed. This chapterexamines how reluctant democrats subvert legislatures by focusing on the EnglishParliament. It discusses the methods by which would-be authoritarians can get around their legislature’s power over the purse: such methods depend on re-engineering the budgetary reversion, the reversionary trigger, and the executive’s complementary powers. It illustrates the logic of budgetary reversions by presenting case studies of four countries in the period 1920–1971 and more systematic data on 156 countries in 2005. It shows that over the course of the twentieth century, reluctant democrats worldwide successfully rewrote the budgetary reversion and trigger to advantage the executive. It also traces the emergence of various legislative powers now enshrined in constitutions around the world to England, focusing on the power of the purse, the power of the vote of confidence, and the power to regulate royal decrees.

Keywords: reluctant democrats, authoritarians, legislatures, English Parliament, power over the purse, budgetary reversion, reversionary trigger, legislative powers, vote of confidence, royal decrees

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