IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Does implicit voting matter? Coalitional bargaining in the EU legislative process


  • Cesar Garcia Perez de Leon


This article examines how decision makers in the EU legislative process reach consensual decisions through the mechanism of ‘implicit voting’. I introduce a spatial model of coalitional bargaining using a utility function incorporating decision makers’ considerations of the policy gains they expect to obtain from the outcome and the policy concessions they need to give other decision makers so as to have the outcome accepted. The model predicts the formation of a compact coalition , which will be able to implement the final policy. As a compact coalition typically integrates a majority of like-minded legislators, consensual outcomes reached through coalition formations are likely to occur under conditions of preference polarization and reflect ideological choices towards one side of the political spectrum. The empirical evaluation of the model for 44 proposals and 111 issues of the EU legislative process requiring qualified majority voting confirms the expectations of the model and suggests that implicit voting is specifically relevant to explaining decisions leading to high or low levels of policy change.

Suggested Citation

  • Cesar Garcia Perez de Leon, 2012. "Does implicit voting matter? Coalitional bargaining in the EU legislative process," European Union Politics, , vol. 13(4), pages 513-534, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:eeupol:v:13:y:2012:i:4:p:513-534
    DOI: 10.1177/1465116512453883

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Signorino, Curtis S., 1999. "Strategic Interaction and the Statistical Analysis of International Conflict," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 279-297, June.
    2. Norman Schofield, 1995. "Coalition Politics," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 7(3), pages 245-281, July.
    3. Schofield, Norman & Grofman, Bernard & Feld, Scott L., 1988. "The Core and the Stability of Group Choice in Spatial Voting Games," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 195-211, March.
    4. Dan S. Felsenthal & Moshé Machover, 1998. "The Measurement of Voting Power," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 1489.
    5. Torsten J. Selck, 2005. "Explaining the Absence of Inertia in European Union Legislative Decision‐making," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(5), pages 1055-1070, December.
    6. Golub, Jonathan, 1999. "In the Shadow of the Vote? Decision Making in the European Community," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 733-764, October.
    7. Cesar Garcia Perez de Leon, 2011. "Coalition Formation and Agenda Setting in EU Environmental Policy after the Enlargement," Les Cahiers européens de Sciences Po 5, Centre d'études européennes (CEE) at Sciences Po, Paris.
    8. Fiorina, Morris P. & Plott, Charles R., 1978. "Committee Decisions under Majority Rule: An Experimental Study," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 575-598, June.
    9. Tsebelis, George, 1994. "The Power of the European Parliament as a Conditional Agenda Setter," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 128-142, March.
    10. McKelvey, Richard D., 1976. "Intransitivities in multidimensional voting models and some implications for agenda control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 472-482, June.
    11. McKelvey, Richard D. & Ordeshook, Peter C. & Winer, Mark D., 1978. "The Competitive Solution for N-Person Games Without Transferable Utility, With an Application to Committee Games," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 599-615, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Frank M. Häge, 2007. "Committee Decision-making in the Council of the European Union," European Union Politics, , vol. 8(3), pages 299-328, September.
    2. Jan Sauermann, 2020. "On the instability of majority decision-making: testing the implications of the ‘chaos theorems’ in a laboratory experiment," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 88(4), pages 505-526, May.
    3. Michel Regenwetter & James Adams & Bernard Grofman, 2002. "On the (Sample) Condorcet Efficiency of Majority Rule: An alternative view of majority cycles and social homogeneity," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 53(2), pages 153-186, September.
    4. Luigi Curini & Paolo Martelli, 2009. "Electoral Systems and Government Stability: A Simulation of 2006 Italian Policy Space," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 3(3), pages 305-322, October.
    5. John R. Freeman & Jude C. Hays & Helmut Stix, 1999. "Democracy and Markets: The Case of Exchange Rates," Working Papers 39, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
    6. de Groot Ruiz, Adrian & Ramer, Roald & Schram, Arthur, 2016. "Formal versus informal legislative bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 1-17.
    7. Kenneth Koford, 1982. "Centralized vote-trading," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 245-268, January.
    8. Tovey, Craig A., 2010. "The instability of instability of centered distributions," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 53-73, January.
    9. Elizabeth Hoffman & Charles Plott, 1983. "Pre-meeting discussions and the possibility of coalition-breaking procedures in majority rule committees," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 21-39, January.
    10. Keith Dowding, 2000. "Institutionalist Research on the European Union," European Union Politics, , vol. 1(1), pages 125-144, February.
    11. Mika Widgren, 2003. "Power in the Design of Constitutional Rules," European Economy Group Working Papers 23, European Economy Group.
    12. Madeleine O. Hosli & Běla Plechanovová & Serguei Kaniovski, 2018. "Vote Probabilities, Thresholds and Actor Preferences: Decision Capacity and the Council of the European Union," Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 31-52, June.
    13. Changxia Ke & Florian Morath & Anthony Newell & Lionel Page, 2021. "Too big to prevail: The paradox of power in coalition formation," Working Papers 2021-09, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    14. Kenneth Koford, 1982. "Why so much stability? An optimistic view of the possibility of rational legislative decisionmaking," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 3-19, March.
    15. Thomas R. Palfrey, 2005. "Laboratory Experiments in Political Economy," Working Papers 91, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    16. Gyung-Ho Jeong, 2017. "The supermajority core of the US Senate and the failure to join the League of Nations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 173(3), pages 325-343, December.
    17. Moser, Peter, 1999. "The impact of legislative institutions on public policy: a survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-33, March.
    18. Patrik Eklund & Agnieszka Rusinowska & Harrie Swart, 2008. "A consensus model of political decision-making," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 158(1), pages 5-20, February.
    19. repec:pri:cepsud:111palfrey is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Robin Hertz & Dirk Leuffen, 2011. "Too big to run? Analysing the impact of enlargement on the speed of EU decision-making," European Union Politics, , vol. 12(2), pages 193-215, June.
    21. Bernard Grofman & Thomas Brunell & Scott Feld, 2012. "Towards a theory of bicameralism: the neglected contributions of the calculus of consent," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 152(1), pages 147-161, July.

    More about this item


    Coalition formation; cooperative game theory; decision-making; EU legislative process;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:eeupol:v:13:y:2012:i:4:p:513-534. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: SAGE Publications (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.