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Veto Players and Referendums

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  1. Veto Players and Referendums The mere possibility of the referendum introduces the preferences of the population in the policy making process. What are the main characteristics?  introduction of the new veto player  policy stability in principle increases  outcomes that prevail approximate better the preferences of the public  agenda control

  2. Agenda Control  who asks the question  who triggers the referendum If both parts of the agenda are controlled by thesame player, this player will use referendums in order to eliminate all other veto players. If agenda setting process is delegated through a competitive process, then the preferences of the public will be better approximated

  3. Direct and Representative Democracy(1) What difference does it make if outcomes areselected by the people or indirectly by the people’s representatives in parliament? Rousseau: Outcomes selected by a referendum are real laws as they are the content of the general will Tsebelis: a)Outcomes selected by Parliament are preferred over the status quo by a majority in parliament b)Outcomes selected by a referendum are preferred over the status quo by a majority of the population

  4. (a) ‘Median voter’ preferences in referendums • winset of the SQ is located between two circles (Y, d+2r and Y, d-2r) • since the yolk is decreasing with the number of people that go to vote the winset of SQ is located between two cricles that differ little from each other • for a large population the median voter may not exist but all median lines pass through very small area (of radius r) so an ‘as if’ median can be very well approximated by the center Y of the yolk of the population)

  5. Direct and Mediated Democracy • A,B,C,D,E: parliamentary actors • Y=centroid (center od the yolk) in parliamentary arena; Y’= centroid in population • Y ≠ Y’ • difference between direct (W’(SQ)) and mediated (W(SQ)) democracy • no guarantee that the two processes will lead to the same outcome  How can we locate these two differentoutcomes?


  6. Advantagesand disadvantages of the referendums • PROPONENTS: - the outcomes fit more closely with people’s preferences - education of citizens to democratic values • CRITICS: - does the average citizen have information and expertise to judge what best advances collective interests ? • Tsebelis: what are the effects of differences for decision making? the outcome has to be located in the intersection of the parliamentary and the popular winsets  referendums create an additional veto player – the people

  7. Institutions regulating referendums (1) CLASSIFICATION OF REFERENDUMS BY DIFFERENT AUTHORS Smith (1975): two criteria to elaborate referendums – ‘control’ and ‘hegemonic effect’ Butler and Ranney (1978):government controlled referendums, b) constitutionally required referendums, c) referendums by popular petition, d) popular initiatives • recently: the strategic aspects of referendums (agenda control)

  8. Institutions regulating referendums (2) Tsebelis uses the classification similar to the one used by Hug (1999): • Are the referendums required? • Are they ‘active’ or ‘passive’ (initiative by the people or not)? • Who controls the agenda (the government or the opposition)? Tsebelis ‘upgrades’ Hug’s classification: • whether or not there will be a referendum or not = ‘triggering’ • the exact wording of the question

  9. Institutions regulating referendums(3)

  10. Institutions regulating referendums (4) • Required referendums - the government is obliged to submit a policy to the voters - no referendum initiative is undertaken - a particular document has to be ratified by the people in orderto be enacted (often applies to constitutional changes) • Veto player referendums - referendum is not required - decision belongs to one of the existing VP • Popular veto - existing VP formulates the question, BUT - the triggering is prerogative of a different agent (e.g. Population) • Popular initiative - initiative does not come from the existing VP - initiative derives from e.g. political group that collected the required signatures (state level in the USA, Switzerland)

  11. Veto Players Referendums (1) Decision making: • Under which conditions possible an A.S. would call for referendum? • stable coalition of A,B,C (‘parliamentary government’) • any possible coalition between A,B,C,D,E is possible (‘presidential system’) • two possible agenda setters: A and E

  12. Veto Players Referendums (1) Decision making: • Under which conditions possible an A.S. would call for referendum? • stable coalition of A,B,C (‘parliamentary government’) • any possible coalition between A,B,C,D,E is possible (‘presidential system’) • two possible agenda setters: A and E • A’ and E’ the best outcomes the two A.S. can achieve by referendums A’ A’ E’

  13. Veto Players Referendum (2) A as the agenda setter: • winset of A’ instead of W (SQ) – player A can introduce referendum andobtain A’ as an outcome  ‘presidential system’: only coalition A,D,E can approve points inside (A,AA’) circle – A has to select this outcome in order to get the preferred outcome • ‘parliamentary system’: coalition A,B,C (but there is no point that all three prefer to A’ because A’ is in the unanimity core of A,B,C SQ

  14. Veto Players Referendums (3) E as the agenda setter: • winset of E’ instead of W(SQ) – player E can introduce the referendum and obtain E’ as a result • three possible coalitions: ABE, ADE, CDE • ‘presidential system’: E will select ADE • ‘parliamentary system’: E  the advantage of referendum A.S. to negotiate different government (if the parties want to stick together  E triggers referendum  government looses

  15. Popular initiatives, Popular veto Required referendums andVeto players referendums are the referendums wherethe agenda setter enjoys monopoly power while Popular initiatives and Popular veto are different kinds of referendums (the ‘triggering’ not in their domain).

  16.  Popular initiatives • if different groups can become agenda setters in a referendum by winning the right to present their question to the electorate (signature collection), the legislative outcome will depend on how competitive the process is • we should focus on the process of selection of the agenda setter (e.g. volunteers, professionals).

  17.  Popular vetoes • non VP will select a referendum if the government proposed result is not inside the winset of the median voter • BUT it can happen that a ‘triggering’ actor can force the referendum without real success since the existing VP can postpone it so the balance of force will be in their power or modify the SQ so that the referendum will be either cancelled or postponed further(Italian ‘divorce’ example).

  18. Conclusions • referendums significantly alter the rules and the outcomes of the legislative process • introduction of additional VP – the median voter of the population • if the same VP is able to trigger the referendum and ask the question  traditional VPs are eliminated • the differences among referendums depend on WHO controls the agenda: • existing VP: strengthens him at the expense of others • popular initiative: it favors the groups that can affect the agenda • competitive agenda setting process: benefits the median voter Median voter preferences results will be better approximated in the following order: • Popular initiative • Popular veto • VP referundum or mandatory referendum

  19. Federalism, Bicameralism and Qualified Majorities • Definition of the term ‘federal’ by Riker (1964): • Two levels of government rule the same land and people • Each level has at least one area of jurisdiction in which it is autonomous • There is some guarantee of the autonomy of each government in its own sphere • Tsebelis observes two different featuresof federal governments: - bicameralism (with the second chamber having an effective veto) - use of qualified majorities in policy making Tsebelis argues that each one of these structures generates more VPs  federal countries have ‘ceteris paribus’ more VPs than unitary ones

  20. Federalism (1) • FISCAL FEDERALISM Two important differences between federal and unitary countries: • Hayek (1939): local governments and consumers have better information about local conditions and preferences therefore they will make better decisions than national governments; • Tiebout (1956): focused on the effects of the competition amongjurisdictions since people can ‘vote with their feet’ and argues that federalism provide people with the choice among different menusof public good.

  21. Previous two approaches ignored the question of incentives of politicians to provide PUBLIC GOODS and PRESERVE MARKETS • Weingast (1995): focused on the fact that markets need protection and government strong enough to be able to resist the threats; ‘state strong enough to protect private markets is strong enough to confiscate the wealth of its citizens’ • DIFFERENT MECHANISMS enabling strong but limited governments by different authors: • Przeworski: ‘stable democracy’ • Weingast: ‘the rule of law’

  22. Federalism (2) (2) THE INSTITUTIONS OF FEDERALISM Hicks (1978) upgrades Riker’s definition of federalism in order to point out the importance of the study of the institutions of federalism.  federal system has the dual purpose of creating a nation and preserving the identity of its units ‘The Constitution in a federal systemwill provide for: • a probably largeAssembly representative of all citizens and chosen from the units (orStates), most likely in proportion to their relative populations; • a House of States or Senate, considerably smaller but normally providing strictly equal representation of all States…’.

  23. Federalism (3) • six players form two groups (upper and lower chamber)  U1,U2,U3 and L1,L2,L3 • the requirement for the replacement of the SQ is congruent majority in the two houses ( which means that some of the previous majorities (like L3, U1, U2, U3) are now invalidated, because they do not represent majorities in both houses)

  24. Federalism (4) • for QM similar argument as for bicameralism • let us consider the case of a 5/6 qualified majority • winset of the SQ is empty (there is no coalition including 5/6 players that agrees to a replacement of the SQ)

  25. Bicameralism (1) • BICAMERAL AND MULTICAMERAL DIVERSITY • the power of the second chamber varies (sometimes the agreement of the upper chamber is necessary for the adoption oflegislation, sometimes not) • the chambers may have a differentpolicyposition (elected from different constituencies  one represents the population and the other the states; or with different electoral system; or they may simply have different decisionmaking rules  Senate’s filibuster rule which does not exist in the House) BUT even when the two chambers are almost the same, it does not follow that differences are eliminated (e.g. Italian case ‘violenza sessuale’) • bicameral legislatures may therefore introduce a second institutional VP (if the second chamber has the possibility to veto legislation)  what Tsebelis focuses on

  26. Bicameralism (2) • HOWEVER, while we are speaking of ‘bicameralism’ from Tsebelis’ point of view, it is easy to generalize to any number of chambers For example: • the American political system requires the agreement of three VPs (president, House, Senate) • EU (European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Ministers)

  27. (2) Strong bicameralism with weak parties • the two chambers are drawn in two dimensions (away from each other)  any coalition in each one of them is possible (congruent majorities) • bicameral core LU (it cannot be defeated by this decision-making rule) • position of SQ (calculation performed in two different ways: exactly and by approximation)  the closer the SQ to the bicameral core, the smaller the winset of SQ (policy stability increases)

  28. Bicameralism (3) • addresses the issue of agenda setting process • usually if one chamber makes a proposal to the other, they select the point closest to themfrom the W (SQ) • most countries adopted more complicated system called ‘navette system’ (the bill shuttles from one chamber to the other until agreement is reached or until some other stopping rule is applied) • Tsebelis and Money: ‘impatience’ of each chamber as an additional variable

  29. Bicameralism (4) (3) QUALIFIED MAJORITIES • How can qualified majorities increase policy stability? • How pervasive qualified majorities are even if not explicitly specified by formal institutions?

  30. (1) Core and winset of qualified majorities • consider the pentagon composed of any 5 points (the unanimity core)  any point inside this area cannot be defeated by a unanimous agreement of the 5 players • select all possible combinations of 5 players, with the intersection of their unanimity cores  any point in this area cannot be defeated by any 5/7 QM  unanimity core more frequent than the bicameral core

  31. Bicameralism (4) Joseph Greenberg (1979): • such a core always exists if q > n / (n+1) where q is the requiredmajority and n is the dimensionality of the policy space • unanimity core always exists (n points define at most (n-1) dimensional space • for points outside the core the winset of the SQ is not empty • IF the QM core exists and the SQ approaches it, the winset of the SQ shrinks (policy stability increases) • a comparison indicates that the bicameral core is a singledimensional object and QM is in general in n dimensions(the shape of the core, affects the size of the winset of SQ – political stability)

  32. Bicameralism (5) (2) PERVASIVNESS OF QUALIFIED MAJORITIES • as already seen QM impose additional restrictions on the W (SQ) • as the required QM threshold increases, the W (SQ) shrinks • unlike the majority W (SQ) which is almost never empty, the QM W (SQ) may be empty • q-cohesion of the collective player is of an extreme importance for the size of the QM winset of (SQ) (policy stability decreases when q-cohesion increases)

  33. Bicameralism (6) (4) BICAMERALISM AND QUALIFIED MAJORITIES COMBINED What happens if bicameralism is combined with qualified majoritiessuch that one chamber decides by simple majority but the otherdecides by qualified majority?

  34. Bicameralism (7) • upper chamber: unanimity • consequences: a) policy stability increases (W(SQ)) shrinks, b) outcomes shift in the favor of the less flexible chamber (only one point L* U* survives) • in one dimensionalspace the core of the bicameral system expands more difficult to upset the SQ (points between U1’ and U3 that could be modified under congruent majority are now invulnerable

  35. Bicameralism (8) Keith Krehbiel (1998) in Pivotal Politics: • for ‘pivotal politics’ the policy space is one dimensional

  36. Bicameralism (9) • Tsebelis adds another dimension; • Depending on where the alternative proposal is, the pivotal player might change (PAA); • If one increases the dimensions and the alternatives to the SQ almost anyone of a particular group of players will become ‘pivotal’

  37. Conclusion II • there is no direct way of translating existing institutions into the number and distances of VPs • some institutions have similar effects (federalism increases the number of VPs), while others alter their effect on VPs on the basis of specific institutional provisions (who controls the agenda of referendums) • results of VP analysis depend on the ideological positions of VPs: some of them may be absorbed (even if they are not absorbed they may converge or diverge which will have serious implications on policy stability)