Self-Enforcing Partisan Procedures
82 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2017 Last revised: 5 May 2020
Date Written: January 1, 2019
Using a multi-stage model of collective decision-making, we study how partisan polarization in legislatures affects the initial choice and future revision of procedural rules. We analyze how a legislature allocates proposal power over policy decisions under uncertainty about the future polarization in policy preferences among legislators. Our notion of polarization encompasses both intra- and inter-party heterogeneity in policy preferences. We show that majority procedures are partisan and self-enforcing, i.e., survive future revisions even though they concentrate proposal power in the hands of a few (non-median) majority party members. This leads to systematic pro-majority policy bias. Increased polarization, however, may not increase the concentration of proposal power within the majority party. The model provides a unified analytical framework to evaluate a long-standing debate about the foundations of partisan influence in the U.S. Congress.
Keywords: Legislative Procedures, Partisan Polarization, Political Parties, Congress
JEL Classification: D72, D78, C72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation