Coalition Formation in Legislative Bargaining

51 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2019 Last revised: 14 Feb 2022

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2019


We propose a new model of legislative bargaining in which coalitions may have different values, reflecting the fact that the policies they can pursue are constrained by the identity of the coalition members. In the model, a formateur picks a coalition and negotiates for the allocation of the surplus it is expected to generate. The formateur is free to change coalitions to seek better deals with other coalitions, but she may lose her status if bargaining breaks down, in which case a new formateur is chosen. We show that as the delay between offers goes to zero, the equilibrium allocation converges to a generalized version of a Nash Bargaining Solution in which —in contrast to the standard solution— the coalition is endogenous and determined by the relative coalitional values. A form of the hold-up problem specific to these bargaining games contributes to generate significant inefficiencies in the selection of the equilibrium coalition. We show that the model helps rationalize well known empirical facts that are in conflict with the predictions of standard non-cooperative models of bargaining: the absence of significant (or even positive) premia in ministerial allocations for formateurs and their parties; the occurrence of supermajorities; and delays in reaching agreements.

Suggested Citation

Battaglini, Marco, Coalition Formation in Legislative Bargaining (March 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25664, Available at SSRN:

Marco Battaglini (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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