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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.

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Article provided by in its journal European Union Politics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 513-534

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Handle: RePEc:sae:eeupol:v:13:y:2012:i:4:p:513-534
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  1. 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.
  2. Golub, Jonathan, 1999. "In the Shadow of the Vote? Decision Making in the European Community," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(04), pages 733-764, September.
  3. Dan S. Felsenthal & Moshé Machover, 1998. "The Measurement of Voting Power," Books, Edward Elgar, number 1489, March.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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