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The use of Coleman's power indices to inform the choice of voting rule with reference to the IMF governing body and the EU Council of Ministers

Leech, Dennis (2002) The use of Coleman's power indices to inform the choice of voting rule with reference to the IMF governing body and the EU Council of Ministers. . Warwick Economic Research Paper, UK.

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In his well known 1971 paper the mathematical sociologist James S. Coleman, proposed three measures of voting power: (1) "the power of a collectivity to act", (2) "the power to prevent action" and (3) "the power to initiate action". (1) is a measure of the overall decisiveness of a voting body taking into account its size, decision rule and the weights of its members, while (2) and (3) are separate indices of the power of individual members, in being able to block or achieve decisions. These measures seem to have been little used for a variety of reasons, although the paper itself is widely cited. First, much of the power indices literature has focused on normalised indices which gives no role to (1) and means that (2) and (3) are identical. Second, Coleman's coalition model is different from that of Shapley and Shubik which has sometimes tended to dominate in discussions of voting power. Third, (2) and (3) are indistinguishable when the decision quota is a simple majority, the distinction becoming important in other voting situations. In this paper I propose that these indices, which are based on a fundamentally different notion of power than that assumed by game-theoretic approaches, have a useful role in aiding a better understanding of collective institutions in which decisions are taken by voting. I use them to illustrate different aspects of the design of a weighted voting system such as the governing body of the IMF or World Bank, or the system of QMV in the European Council.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
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Additional Information: Copyright © 2002 Dennis Leech. The authors gratefully acknowledge that work on this paper was partly supported by the Leverhulme Trust (Grant F/07-004m). LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL (<>) of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2006
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 22:53

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