The Journal of Economic History vol:71 issue:1 pages:185-210
Economic interests, ideas and politics have been put forward as explanations for the Repeal of the British Corn Laws. This paper evaluates these competing explanations using the case of the Belgian Corn Laws between 1834 and 1873. A detailed quantitative analysis assesses the success of party affiliation and personal and constituency economic interests in predicting representatives’ voting behavior. These factors prove to be insufficient to explain the shift towards free trade. The paper then moves on to a qualitative analysis, which points to the importance of political strategy and ideas in the liberalization of corn tariffs.