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I cannot understand the first sentence in the following passage. Its structure and meaning contrasts with the rest of the writing.

  1. Firstly, why is the word initiated being used after the Great Reform? What I got from the sentence is that the Great Reform initiated / caused the extension of the voting franchise. So would it better if it was written in this way:

The extension of the voting franchise ( that was) initiated with the Great Reform began in England in 1832.

  1. Secondly, my sentence would be:

The extension of the voting franchise, that was initiated with the Great reform, began in 1832, albeit slowly (even though it was progressed slowly) a process of liberalization seen in the history of the British Parliament.

or "albeit slowly" means " any progress was not made even slowly "

The extension of the voting franchise that began in England in 1832 with the Great Reform Bill initiated, albeit slowly, a process of liberalization unseen in the history of the British Parliament. Previously, power rested in the hands of the few aristocrats with enough property and wealth to pass a relatively high property requirement for voting and holding office. Yet while the lowering of the wealth prerequisite provided an easy target for modern liberals when arguing for the democratization of Parliament, this democratization at first did not extend to the working class.

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    It's actually saying that the extension (of the voting franchise) initiated a process of liberalization.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 22:12
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    With bracketing: [[The extension [of the voting franchise]] that began in England in 1832 with the Great Reform Bill] initiated, albeit slowly, a process of liberalization unseen in the history of the British Parliament.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 22:13
  • These are two separate questions about English usage, even though they relate to the same quotation. For the meaning of "albeit," what do you not understand? What did you find when you looked the word up in a dictionary or searched this site for it?
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 22:15
  • @sumelic Thank you I got it now. I know what albeit means ,I just thought maybe it was used in a different way
    – Mrt
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 22:17

2 Answers 2

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Parse it this way:

The extension1 ... initiated2 ... a process3.

  1. What kind of an extension? —an extension of the voting franchise
    Which extension of the voting franchise? —one which began in England in 1832
    How did it begin? —it began with the Great Reform Bill

  2. Really started it moving, eh! —Yes, it did, albeit slowly

  3. What kind of process? —a process of liberalization!
    Oh, well, we'd been doing that for centuries. —No! this was unlike anything ever seen before. It was unseen in the history of the British Parliament.

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The point is that one process—the extension of the franchise—set in motion (initiated) a second process: the liberalization of parliamentary politics. The syntax may be a trifle confusing in that a lengthy relative clause, modifying the first process, intervenes between the naming of that first process and the verb of which that process is the grammatical subject (initiated).

Albeit here could well be replaced by a more readable though.

Eventually, and notoriously, the franchise was extended to all adults except for “criminals, lunatics, and Peers of the Realm.”

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