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Bargaining in Legislatures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 1989

David P. Baron
Stanford University
John A. Ferejohn
Stanford University


Bargaining in legislatures is conducted according to formal rules specifying who may make proposals and how they will be decided. Legislative outcomes depend on those rules and on the structure of the legislature. Although the social choice literature provides theories about voting equilibria, it does not endogenize the formation of the agenda on which the voting is based and rarely takes into account the institutional structure found in legislatures. In our theory members of the legislature act noncooperatively in choosing strategies to serve their own districts, explicitly taking into account the strategies members adopt in response to the sequential nature of proposal making and voting. The model permits the characterization of a legislative equilibrium reflecting the structure of the legislature and also allows consideration of the choice of elements of that structure in a context in which the standard, institution-free model of social choice theory yields no equilibrium.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 1989

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