Bönder låg bakom svensk protektionism

Två tyska ekonom-historiker, Sibylle Lehmann och Oliver Volckart (varav jag är vän med den senare), analyserar i en ny studie, ”The Political Economy of Agricultural Protection: Sweden 1887”, hur det kom sig att tullar infördes i riksdagen för 123 år sedan. Intressant nog finner de stöd för att ekonomiskt intresse spelade en stor roll — liksom, troligen, propaganda:

We find that voters who did not own or lease land consistently favoured free trade. Agricultural voters, however, evidenced interesting variations between estate sizes, and important changes between the spring and autumn elections. In the spring election, it were only the voters with the largest farms (that had a value of more than 30,000 Kronor) and leaseholders (who had to rent land with a value of at least 6000 Kronor in order to be allowed to vote) whose support for free trade fell below 50 percent. In the autumn election, by contrast, even 60 percent of the smallholders voted for protection.

By separately analysing constituencies where voting was indirect and occasionally still open, we determine that electoral manipulation or pressure that the owners of large estates exerted on smallholders is unlikely to be responsible for this shift. Apparently, small and middling farmers decisively changed their trade political outlook between spring and autumn 1887. As trade balances did not change so quickly, some other influence – likely enough protectionist propaganda – must have had a crucial impact in the course of the summer months 1887. Apparently, not only farmers who were really exposed to competition from abroad, such as wheat producers, were susceptible to anti-free trade arguments, but small farmers who specialised in dairy production, too. For the protectionists, disinformation seems to have paid.

Att jordbrukare stödjer protektionism är alltså ingen ny företeelse. (Det kanske förresten även är så att reformer i riktning mot frihandel uppkommer som ett resultat av att vissa intressen gynnas av det.)