The Efficient Secret is an analysis of the institutional changes in parliamentary government in nineteenth-century England, concentrating on the years between the first and third Reform Acts. Professor Gary W. Cox employs a rational choice model to analyze the problems of voter choice and to examine the emergence of party loyalty in the electorate, the development of cabinet government, and their legislative consequences. The introductory chapters provide the historical setting for this study and briefly survey nineteenth-century political and economic events. Professor Cox then focuses on the increases in party voting in Parliament and in the electorate. To support his argument concerning these parallel developments, he uses statistical evidence drawn from poll books and newspapers.
Part I. Introduction: 1. Introduction and outline; 2. The historical setting; Part II. The Development of Disciplined Parliamentary Parties: 3. The measurement and theory of party cohesion; 4. The Peelites and the disruption of the party system; 5. The caucus; 6. The origin of the efficient secret; 7. The electoral connection and ministerial ambition; 8. The Cabinet's strength: threats of resignation and dissolution; Part III. The Electorate: 9. The development of a party-oriented electorate; 10. The causes of a party-oriented electorate; 11. The legislative consequences of a party-oriented electorate; 12. The influence of constituents in Victorian England; Part IV. Conclusion: 13. The history of party voting; Appendix; References; Author index; Subject index.