The Differential Calculus of Consent


Existing treatments of the choice of an optimal voting rule ignore the effects of the rule on political bargaining. Specifically, more stringent majority requirements reduce intra-coalitional free riding in political compromise, leading to greater gains from political trade. Once this benefit of increasing the vote share necessary to enact a proposal is recognized, we suggest that the optimal voting rule in the presence of transactions costs will actually be closer to unanimity than the optimal majority derived by Buchanan and Tullock (1962).