Bonding, Structure and the Stability of Political Parties: Party Government in the House

Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 215-231, May 1994

31 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2007

See all articles by Gary W. Cox

Gary W. Cox

Stanford University

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Abstract

The public policy benefits that parties deliver are allocated by democratic procedures that devolve ultimately to majority rule. Majority-rule decision make, however, does not lead to consistent policy choices; it is unstable. In this paper, we argue that institutions - and thereby policy coalitions - can be stabilized by extra-legislative organization. The rules of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives dictate that a requirement for continued membership is support on the floor of the Caucus decisions for a variety of key structural matters. Because membership in the majority party's caucus is valuable, it constitutes a bond, the posting of which stabilizes the structure of the House, and hence the policy decisions made in the House. We examine the rules of the House Democratic Caucus and find that they do in fact contain the essential elements of an effective, extralegislative bonding mechanism.

Keywords: Political Parties, stability, instability, party government, House of Representatives, Congress, party caucus

JEL Classification: D71, D72

Suggested Citation

Cox, Gary W. and McCubbins, Mathew D., Bonding, Structure and the Stability of Political Parties: Party Government in the House. Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 215-231, May 1994. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1002972

Gary W. Cox (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-723-4278 (Phone)

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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