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Content-Based Agendas and Qualified Majorities in Sequential Voting

Andreas Kleiner () and Benny Moldovanu

American Economic Review, 2017, vol. 107, issue 6, 1477-1506

Abstract: We analyze sequential, binary voting schemes in settings where several privately informed agents have single-peaked preferences over a finite set of alternatives, and we focus on robust equilibria that do not depend on assumptions about the players' beliefs about each other. Our main results identify two intuitive conditions on binary voting trees, ensuring that sincere voting at each stage forms an ex post perfect equilibrium. In particular, we uncover a strong rationale for content-based agendas: if the outcome should not be sensitive to beliefs about others, nor to the deployment of strategic skills, the agenda needs to be built "from the extremes to the middle" so that more extreme alternatives are both more difficult to adopt, and are put to vote before other, more moderate options. An important corollary is that, under simple majority, the equilibrium outcome of the incomplete information game is always the Condorcet winner. Finally, we aim to guide the practical design of schemes that are widely used by legislatures and committees and we illustrate our findings with several case studies.

JEL-codes: D71 D72 I10 J16 J32 K10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20160277
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