Democratization and the Franchise

Understanding why elites extend the franchise is one of the central questions in comparative politics. However, most theories fail to account for subsequent extensions of voting rights to once-excluded groups, including women, racial and religious minorities, and the poor. This article reviews three new books in comparative politics that focus on the struggle for voting rights and representation in the first-wave democracies. These books challenge classic assumptions and show that democratization is punctuated by ongoing struggles over inclusion that continue to this day. Together, these books contribute to debates over modernization theory, democratic responsiveness, and the use of the United States as a case in comparative analysis.