Repeated Agenda Setting and the Unanimous Approval of Bad Policies
This paper addresses the puzzle of why legislation, even highly inefficient legislation, may pass with overwhelming majorities. We model a egislature in which the same agenda setter serves for two periods, showing how he can exploit a legislature (completely) in the first period by romising future benefits to legislators who support him. In equilibrium, large majority of legislators vote for the first-period proposal because a ote in favor maintains the chance for membership in the minimum winning coalition in the future. The model thus generates situations in which egislators approve policies by large majorities, or even unanimously, that enefit few, or even none, of them. The results are robust: some institutional arrangements, such as super-majority rules or sequential voting, imit but do not eliminate the agenda setter's power to exploit the legislature, and other institutions such as secret voting do not limit his power.
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