Title

A Theory of Gridlock: Strategic Behavior in Legislative Deliberations

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1998

Abstract

This paper studies compromise and inflexibility in political negotiations. It provides the first analysis of gridlock, a result in which politicians fail to agree on an ideal compromise but which most voters find preferable to the status quo. A multistage game is developed in which contending political blocs choose from hardline or compromise strategies. The outcomes compromise, gridlock, or one party's ideal legislation—are a function of the incentives of political actors to cooperate or fight. The model illustrates problems in political markets that may occur when consumers are poorly informed.