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Tsebelis: Nested games

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Tsebelis. 1990. Nested games: Rational choice in comparative politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Chapter 6

Objective

Models consociationalism as a nested game, in an effort to answer three questions.

  1. Under what strategies can elites pursue accommodating strategies despite their followers' demands for intransigence?
  2. Why would followers continue to reelect elites who continually pursue such strategies?
  3. How do political institutions promote accommodating strategies?

Model

Equilibria

Iterated Game

On unimportant issues, it is an iterated game, since favors today can be traded for favors tomorrow. There are two possible equilbria. First, we might decide to always cooperate on everything. Or, we might decide that we're better off if I always let you win on some issues and you always let me win on other issues.

Under the second equilibrium, INSTITUTIONS might matter. For example, federalism guarantees regional groups complete control over some aspects of policy. Though Tsebelis doesn't discuss it, presumably you could divide up cabinet portfolios to meet a similar goal.

Even without institutions, strategic elites might recognize that their followers care more about an issue thatn another elite's followers do. As such, the first elite might rile up her followers, thus allowing her to credibly commit to intransigence. Since the second elite's followers don't really care about the issue, the second elite gives in.

One-Shot Game

For important issues, it's a one-shot game; neither elite is willing to make a concession in exchange for future concessions. Still, accommodation is possible. For example, the Belgian Egmont Pact was negotiated behind closed doors in strict secrecy. Since the public had no information, elites could play "chicken" (although the masses did have information during the implementation stage).

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Tags

Tsebelis, George (author)Political ScienceComparative PoliticsVotingGame TheoryDownsian ModelDemocracyConsociationalismMajoritarianism

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