Anticipating Unilateralism

Foster, David. 2022. "Anticipating unilateralism." Journal of Politics, 84(2).

59 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021 Last revised: 4 Nov 2022

See all articles by David Foster

David Foster

London School of Economics & Political Science

Date Written: September 12, 2020


Understanding unilateralism may require examining the conditions that precede and motivate the president's action. But if members of Congress can anticipate unilateral action, their failure to legislate cannot be explained by "gridlock intervals" in a standard spatial model. I argue instead that they may willingly surrender authority to the president to head off potential attacks from voters or interest groups. This helps to explain the president's accumulation of authority over time. More broadly, I argue that just as a large literature has examined outside pressure on Congress in isolation, we should examine its influence in the presence of the president's unilateral powers.

Keywords: Congress, presidency, executive order, unilateral action, formal model

Suggested Citation

Foster, David, Anticipating Unilateralism (September 12, 2020). Foster, David. 2022. "Anticipating unilateralism." Journal of Politics, 84(2)., Available at SSRN:

David Foster (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science ( email )

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