Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 10 > Issue 3

Fair Play in Assemblies

Michael Gibilisco, University of Rochester, Department of Political Science, USA, michael.gibilisco@rochester.edu
Suggested Citation
Michael Gibilisco (2015), "Fair Play in Assemblies", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 10: No. 3, pp 275-320. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00014155

Publication Date: 17 Sep 2015
© 2015 M. Gibilisco
Legislatures,  Legislative procedures,  Game theory


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In this article:
1. Illustration of the Mechanism 
2. Model of Minority Rights 
3. Minority-Rights Equilibria 
4. Results 
5. Necessity of Procedural Persistence 
6. Conclusion 


This paper studies the conditions under which minority proposal rights emerge from majority voting in a legislature. I develop a legislative bargaining model in which rules persist, i.e., remain in effect until a majority agrees to change them. In each session, legislators first determine whether a minority leader can offer amendments, and subsequently they determine policy using these procedures and majority rule. The main result demonstrates that legislative majorities grant minority rights today in order to moderate policy tomorrow when they may become the minority. This mechanism operates without punishment strategies and private information and in the presence of polarized and unified parties; however, persistent rules are necessary for the right to substantively influence policies. Comparative statics indicate that weak parties, super-majority rule, patient legislators, and extreme proposers encourage the adoption of minority rights. More broadly, these results demonstrate the importance of persistent rules for the endurance of inclusive institutions and political compromises, and they suggest one reason for procedural differences between the House and Senate.