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The Re-Evaluation Of The Representation Of The People And Democracy In Westminster, 1772–1789

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Chapter Summary

The Swedish coup of 1772 did not go unnoticed in the British Parliament. Adam presented direct democracy as potentially the most threatening prospect if Parliament complied with the demands presented in the name of the people. The government side favoured traditional ways of understanding democracy as merely the popular element in the constitution, but even among them rhetoric referring to the people had gained new dimensions after the parliamentary reform movement. Britain was not a pure democracy but a popular government based on the representation of the people as 'estates'. The British political establishment would soon receive another model to comment on: the French Revolution, which has customarily been regarded as the time when modern notions of popular sovereignty, national representation and representative democracy were born.

Keywords: British Parliament; democracy; French Revolution; national representation; people



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