Towards an Economic Theory of By-Elections since the War

  • Matthew Oakeshott


Why do we need an economic theory of by-elections since 1945? Why do we need any theory of by-elections at all? Rhetorical questions tend to have answers treading eagerly on their heels, and these are no exception. Put at its simplest, the broad sweep of by-election results has been considerably less favourable to governments in the later part of this period than in its first decade. The possible explanations for this phenomenon are as varied as they are individually intriguing. Sadly, the ingenuity of their formulation is almost always outweighed by their inherent implausibility or immaturity.


Personal Income Opinion Poll Congressional Election Economic Fluctuation Party Allegiance 
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  1. 1.
    C. A. E. Goodhart and R. J. Bhansali, ‘Political Economy’, Political Studies, XVIII (1970) 43–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    G. Kramer, ‘Short Term Fluctuations in US Voting Behaviour’, American Political Science Review (Mar 1971).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    D. E. Butler and D. Stokes, Political Change in Britain (1969) pp. 403–404.Google Scholar

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© Matthew Oakeshott 1973

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  • Matthew Oakeshott

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