Journal of Politics. May
2006, Vol. 68, Issue 2, Pages 322-34
Collective choice bodies throughout the world use a diverse array of codified rules that determine who may exercise procedural rights, and in what order. This paper analyzes several two-stage decision-making models, focusing on one in which the first-moving actor has a unique, unilateral, procedural right to enforce the status quo, i.e., to exercise gatekeeping. Normative analysis using Pareto-dominance criteria reveals that the institution of gatekeeping is inferior to another institutional arrangement within this framework—namely, one in which the same actor is given a traditional veto instead of a gatekeeping right. The analytical results raise an empirical puzzle: when and why would self-organizing collective choice bodies adopt gatekeeping institutions? A qualitative survey of governmental institutions suggests that—contrary to an entrenched modeling norm within political science—empirical instances of codified gatekeeping rights are rare or nonexistent.