Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-mhl4m Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-03T05:46:51.690Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Political Dynasties in Defense of Democracy: The Case of France’s 1940 Enabling Act

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 March 2023

Jean Lacroix
Associate Professor, Université Paris-Saclay – RITM, 54 boulevard Desgranges Sceaux, Sceaux 92330, France. E-mail:
Pierre-Guillaume Méon
Professor, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium. E-mail:
Kim Oosterlinck*
Professor, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), 50 Avenue Roosevelt, CP 114/03, Brussels 1050, Belgium.


The literature has pointed out the negative aspects of political dynasties. But can political dynasties help prevent autocratic reversals? We argue that political dynasties differ according to their ideological origin and that those whose founder was a defender of democratic ideals, for simplicity labeled “pro-democratic dynasties,” show stronger support for democracy. We analyze the vote by the French parliament on 10 July 1940 of an enabling act that granted full power to Marshall Philippe Pétain, thereby ending the Third French Republic and aligning France with Nazi Germany. Using data collected from the biographies of parliamentarians and information on their voting behavior, we find that members of a pro-democratic dynasty were 9.6 to 15.1 percentage points more likely to oppose the act than other parliamentarians. We report evidence that socialization inside and outside parliament shaped the vote of parliamentarians.

© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Economic History Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


We thank Toke Aidt, Gianmarco Daniele, Giuseppe De Feo, Francois Facchini, Jon H. Fiva, Olle Folke, Benny Geys, Katharina Hofer, Krisztina Kis-Katos, Tommy Krieger, Thomas Piketty, Johanna Rickne, James Rockey, Daniel M. Smith, Peter Solar, seminar participants at Brandeis University, the University of Göttingen, the University of Hamburg, the University of Leicester, and the University of Marburg, as well as participants of the Interwar Workshop - London School of Economics and Political Science, of the Meeting of the European Public Choice Society in Rome, of the Silvaplana Workshop in Political Economy, of the Workshop on Political Economy - University of Groningen, and of the Beyond Basic Questions Workshop for comments and suggestions. This project was supported by the Agence National de la Recherche (ANR), Project POLECOWW2 ANR-21-CE41-0015. We are also indebted to Olivier Wieviorka for insights concerning the historical and archival parts of this project and for giving us access to the data he collected. We also wish to thank the editor, Dan Bogart, as well as two anonymous referees, for their insightful comments.



Abramitzky, Ran, Platt Boustan, Leah, and Eriksson, Katherine. “A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration.” Journal of Political Economy 122, no. 3 (2014): 467506.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Acemoglu, Daron, and Robinson, James A.. “A Theory of Political Transitions.” American Economic Review 91, no. 4 (2001): 938–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Agrikoliansky, Éric. Les partis politiques en France. Paris: Armand Colin, 2016.Google Scholar
Aidt, Toke, and Franck, Raphaël. “What Motivates an Oligarchic Elite to Democratize? Evidence from the Roll Call Vote on the Great Reform Act of 1832.” Journal of Economic History 79, no. 3 (2019): 773825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Aidt, Toke, and Rauh, Christopher. “The Big Five Personality Traits and Partisanship in England.” Electoral Studies 54 (2018): 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alary, Éric. La ligne de démarcation. 1940–1944. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1995.Google Scholar
Amore, Mario Daniele, Bennedsen, Morten, and Meisner Nielsen, Kasper. “Return to Political Power in a Low Corruption Environment.” INSEAD working paper 2015/80/EPS, 2015. Available at Scholar
Basu, Amrita. “Women, Dynasties, and Democracy India.” In Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics, edited by Chandra, Kanchan, 136–72. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
Battey, Heather, Cox, David, and Jackson, Michelle. “On the Linear in Probability Model for Binary Data.” Royal Society Open Science 6, no. 5 (2019): ScholarPubMed
Becker, Sascha O., and Hornung, Erik. “The Political Economy of the Prussian Three-Class Franchise.” Journal of Economic History 80, no. 4 (2020): 1143–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Besley, Timothy, and Reynal-Querol, Marta. “The Logic of Hereditary Rule: Theory and Evidence.” Journal of Economic Growth 22, no. 2 (2017): 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Besley, Timothy, and Persson, Torsten. “Democratic Values and Institutions.” American Economic Review: Insights 1, no. 1 (2019): 5976.Google Scholar
Bisin, Alberto, and Verdier, Thierry. “The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences.” Journal of Economic Theory 97, no. 2 (2001): 298319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Braganca, Arthur, Ferraz, Claudio, and Rios, Juan. “Political Dynasties and the Quality of Government.” Unpublished Manuscript, 2015.Google Scholar
Brambor, Thomas, Robert Clark, William, and Golder, Matt. “Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses.” Political Analysis 14, no. 1 (2006): 6382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cagé, Julia, Dagorret, Anna, Grosjean, Pauline, and Jha, Saumitra. “Heroes and Villains: The Effects of Combat Heroism on Autocratic Values and Nazi Collaboration in France.” Unpublished Manuscript, 2020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Calef, Henri. Le sabordage de la Troisième République. Paris: Perrin, 1988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Camp, Roderic A.Family Relationships in Mexican Politics: A Preliminary View.” Journal of Politics 44, no. 3 (1982): 848–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chandra, Kanchan, ed. “Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics.” In Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics, 12–55. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
Alexandra, Cirone, and Velasco Rivera, Carlos. “Electoral Reform and Dynastic Politics: Evidence from the French Third Republic.” Unpublished manuscript, 2017.Google Scholar
Cruz, Cesi, Labonne, Julien, and Querubin, Pablo. “Politician Family Networks and Electoral Outcomes: Evidence from the Philippines.” American Economic Review 107, no. 10 (2017): 3006–37.Google Scholar
Dal Bó, Ernesto, Dal Bó, Pedro, and Snyder, Jason. “Political Dynasties.” Review of Economic Studies 76, no. 1 (2009): 115–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Daniele, Gianmarco, and Geys, Benny. “Born in the Purple: Political Dynasties and Politicians’ Human Capital.” Mimeo VUB, 2014.Google Scholar
Ermakoff, Ivan. Ruling Oneself Out: A Theory of Collective Abdications. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.Google Scholar
Fafchamps, Marcel, and Labonne, Julien. “Do Politicians’ Relatives Get Better Jobs? Evidence from Municipal Elections.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 33, no. 2 (2017): 268300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fiva, Jon H., and Smith, Daniel M.. “Political Dynasties and the Incumbency Advantage in Party-Centered Environments.” American Political Science Review 112, no. 3 (2018): 17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Folke, Olle, Persson, Torsten, and Rickne, Johanna. “Dynastic Political Rents? Economic Benefits to Relatives of Top Politicians.” Economic Journal 127, no. 605 (2017): 495517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gagliarducci, Stefano, and Manacorda, Marco. “Politics in the Family: Nepotism and the Hiring Decisions of Italian Firms.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 12, no. (2) (2020): 67–95.Google Scholar
Gelpi, Christopher, and Feaver, Peter D.. “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick? Veterans in the Political Elite and the American Use of Force.” American Political Science Review 96, no. 4 (2002): 779–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Geys, Benny. “Political Dynasties, Electoral Institutions and Politicians’ Human Capital.” Economic Journal 127, no. 605 (2017): 474–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Geys, Benny, and Smith, Daniel M.. “Political Dynasties in Democracies: Causes, Consequences and Remaining Puzzles.” Economic Journal 127, no. 605 (2017): 446–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gomila, R.Logistic or linear? Estimating causal effects of experimental treatments on binary outcomes using regression analysis.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 150, no. 4, 700709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heneman, Harlow James. “Recent Governmental Reforms in France.” American Political Science Review 35, no. 1 (1941): 87100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kent, Jennings, M., and Niemi, Richard G.. “The Transmission of Political Values from Parent to Child.” American Political Science Review 62, no. 1 (1968): 169–84.Google Scholar
Jennings, M. Kent, Laura Stoker, and Jake Bowers. “Politics across Generations: Family Transmission Reexamined.” Journal of Politics 71, no. 3 (2009): 782–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jensenius, Francesca R.A Sign of Backwardness? Where Dynastic Leaders Are Elected in India.” In Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics, edited by Chandra, Kanchan, 83104. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
Joly, Jean. Dictionnaire des parlementaires français de 1889 à 1940. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1960.Google Scholar
Jean, Lacroix, Méon, Pierre-Guillaume, and Oosterlinck, Kim. “Political Dynasties in Defense of Democracy: The Case of France’s 1940 Enabling Act.” Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2022-04-13. 10.3886/E167481V1 Google Scholar
Michels, Robert. Political Parties. A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. New York: Macmillan, 1911.Google Scholar
Naidu, Suresh, Robinson, James A., and Young, Lauren E.. “Social Origins of Dictatorships: Elite Networks and Political Transitions in Haiti.” Columbia University Working Paper No. 31, New York, NY, 2017.Google Scholar
North, Douglass, Joseph Wallis, John, and Weingast, Barry. A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Filippo, Occhino, Oosterlinck, Kim, and White, Eugene. “How Much Can a Victor Force the Vanquished to Pay?Journal of Economic History 68, no. 1 (2008): 145.Google Scholar
Odin, Jean. Les quatre-vingts. Paris: J. Tallandier, 1946.Google Scholar
Olson, Mancur. “Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development.” American Political Science Review 87, no. 3 (1993): 567–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pareto, Vilfredo. The Rise and Fall of the Elites. New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1901.Google Scholar
Paxton, Robert. Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940–1944. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1972.Google Scholar
Persson, Torsten, and Tabellini, Guido. “Democratic Capital: The Nexus of Political and Economic Change.” American Economic Journal. Macroeconomics 1, no. 2 (2009): 88126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Piketty, Thomas. “Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 110, no. 3 (1995): 551–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Querubin, Pablo. “Family and Politics: Dynastic Persistence in the Philippines.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 11, no. 2 (2016): 151–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rossi, Martin A.Self-Perpetuation of Political Power: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Argentina.” Economic Journal 127, no. 605 (2017): 455–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, Daniel M. Dynasties and Democracy: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage in Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2018.Google Scholar
Smith, Daniel M., and Martin, Shane. “Political Dynasties and the Selection of Cabinet Ministers.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 42, no. 1 (2017): 131–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stasavage, David. “Partisan Politics and Public Debt: The Importance of the ‘Whig Supremacy’ for Britain’s Financial Revolution.” European Review of Economic History 11, no. 1 (2007): 123–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sternhell, Zeev. Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
Svolik, Milan. “Authoritarian reversals and democratic consolidation.” American Political Science Review 102, n°2 (2008): 153–168.Svolik, Milan W. “Which democracies will last? Coups, incumbent takeovers, and the dynamic of democratic consolidation.” British Journal of Political Science 45, no. 4 (2015): 715738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bohlken, Thomas, Anjali. “Dynasty and ‘Paths to Power’.” In Democratic Dynasties: State, Party and Family in Contemporary Indian Politics, edited by Chandra, Kanchan, 238–65. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
Vergez-Chaignon, Bénédicte. Pétain. Paris: Perrin, 2014.Google Scholar
Wieviorka, Olivier. Les orphelins de la Républiques. Destinées des députés et sénateurs français (1940–1945). Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Lacroix et al. supplementary material

Online Appendix

Download Lacroix et al. supplementary material(File)
File 282 KB