Flexibility vs. protection from an unrepresentative legislative majority

Brett Graham, Dan Bernhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We derive the equilibrium institutional design of representative democracy by citizens who first vote on the supermajority required for a new policy to be adopted, and then delegate decision making to a legislature that selects policy given that institutional constraint. A legislature that can freely tailor policy to reflect society's current preferences is good. However, the views of the median legislator or agenda setter may differ from the median citizen's, and an unchecked legislature can implement bad policy. We characterize how the primitives describing the preferences of actors and the status quo policy affect the equilibrium degree of legislative flexibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-88
Number of pages30
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Agenda setting
  • Delegated decision making
  • Legislative bargaining
  • Supermajority
  • Voting rules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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