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Vote Weighting in the European Union


  • Paterson, Iain

    (Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna)


The extent to which there is a regular relationship between the current voting weights in Council of European Union member states and their populations is investigated. It is shown that a model of alpha- or weak proportionality has a high explanatory power, with certain restrictions. Further desirable heuristic properties are considered. A particular proposal for extension of the current system to account for EU expansion to include Central and East European countries is evaluated in this light. However, even although this relationship between votes and population remains fixed, prior enlargements of the EU effectively changed the degree to which votes represent the Union's population. A methodology for calculating a Coefficient of Representation is introduced in this paper to measure this previously unquantified phenomenon. It is shown that a 'dilution of representation' has occurred and will continue unless a new voting system is introduced. Finally some alternative voting weights are presented as examples. These are constructed in such a manner as to preserve the basic principles found in the current system, but which raise the degree of representation moderately.

Suggested Citation

  • Paterson, Iain, 1998. "Vote Weighting in the European Union," East European Series 54, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ihs:ihsrop:54

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    More about this item


    Voting Weight; European Union; Coefficient (Degree) of; Representation; Power Index; Power Envelope;

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • C40 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - General


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