Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 96–113 | Cite as

Liberalism and great upheaval: What did classical liberals do in the Tsarist Russia?

  • Leonid KrasnozhonEmail author
  • Mykola Bunyk
Original Paper


Efficient constitutional change depends on ability of bargaining parties to overcome such inherent problems of political change as commitment and credibility (Galiani et al. in J Econ Behav Organ 103:17–38, 2014; Congleton in Perfecting parliament: constitutional reform, liberalism, and the rise of western democracy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2011; Boettke and Coyne in J Inst Econ 5(1):1–23, 2009). This paper studies how constitutional bargaining leads to a negative sum-game in a transitional illiberal environment. We use a historical example of the Russian constitutional monarchy (1905–1917) to demonstrate that an exchange-based constitutional change within the king-council model leads to an inefficient outcome when bargaining parties fail to trade political authority for policy results. The historical example of the Russian constitutional monarchy shows how both radicalization of the liberal parliamentary majority and pseudo-constitutionalism of Nicholas II undermined efficiency of the legislative assembly. We also find that nationality-based politics undermined the constitutional bargaining by radicalizing both the liberal movement and the tsar.


Liberalism Constitutional monarchy Russia Nicholas II Ukraine 

JEL Classification

B13 B15 B31 B53 



We thank Roger Congleton and two anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Loyola University New OrleansNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Lviv Regional Institute of Public AdministrationLvivUkraine

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