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Published September 7, 2015 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Fair Play in Assemblies


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.

Additional Information

© 2015 M. Gibilisco. MS submitted 6 November 2014; final version received 26 April 2015. Published: 17 Sep 2015. Thanks to Avi Acharya, Sergio Ascencio, Rob Carroll, Seok-Ju Cho, Mason Delang, John Duggan, Mark Fey, Gerald Gamm, Brenton Kenkel, Dave Primo, Mattan Sharkansky, Svanhildur Thorvaldsdottir, Yannis Vassiliadis, participants.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023