Voting Power and Voting Blocs
Warwick Economic Working Paper No. 716
23 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2005
Date Written: July 2004
We investigate the method of power indices to study voting power of members of a legislature that has voting blocs. Our analysis is theoretical, intended to contribute to a theory of positive political science in which social actors are motivated by the pursuit of power as measured by objective power indices. Our starting points are the papers by Riker (Behavioural Science, 1959, "A test of the adequacy of the power index") and Coleman (American Sociological Review, 1973, "Loss of Power"). We argue against the Shapley-Shubik index and show that anyway the Shapley-Shubik index per head is inappropriate for voting blocs. We apply the Penrose index (the absolute Banzhaf index) to a hypothetical voting body with 100 members. We show how the power indices of individual bloc members can be used to study the implications of the formation of blocs and how voting power varies as bloc size varies. We briefly consider incentives to migrate between blocs. This technique of analysis has many real world applications to legislatures and international bodies. It can be generalised in many ways: our analysis is a priori (assuming formal voting and ignoring actual voting behaviour) but can be made empirical with voting data reflecting behaviour; it examines the consequences of two blocs but can easily be extended to more.
Keywords: Power Index, Penrose Index, Banzhaf Index, Shapley-Shubik Index, Voting Power
JEL Classification: C71, D71, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation