Parties, Coalitions, and the Internal Organization of Legislatures
45 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2008 Last revised: 26 Jan 2011
Date Written: December 1, 2010
We present a model of parties-in-legislatures that can support partisan policy outcomes despite the absence of any party-imposed voting discipline. Legislators choose all procedures and policies through majority-rule bargaining and cannot commit to vote against their preferences on either. Yet, off-median policy bias occurs in equilibrium because a majority of legislators with correlated preferences has policy-driven incentives to adopt partisan agenda-setting rules - as a consequence, bills reach the floor disproportionately from one side of the ideological spectrum. The model recovers as special cases the claims of both partisan and non-partisan theories in the ongoing debate over the nature of party influence in the U.S. Congress. We show that: (1) party influence increases in polarization, and (2) the legislative median controls policymaking only when there are no bargaining frictions and no polarization. We discuss the implications of our findings for the theoretical and empirical study of legislatures.
Keywords: party influence, legislative organization, endogenous agenda-setting rules, coalitions, U.S. Congress
JEL Classification: D72, D78, C72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation