Dividing the indivisible: procedures for allocating cabinet ministries to political parties in a parliamentary system
Brams, Steven J.
Kaplan, Todd R.
New York University; University of Exeter
Journal of Theoretical Politics
Political parties in Northern Ireland recently used a divisor method of apportionment to choose, in sequence, ten cabinet ministries. If the parties have complete information about each other’s preferences, we show that it may not be rational for them to act sincerely by choosing their most-preferred ministry that is available. One consequence of acting sophisticatedly is that the resulting allocation may not be Pareto-optimal, making all the parties worse off. Another is non-monotonicity – choosing earlier may hurt rather than help a party. We introduce a mechanism, combining sequential choices with a structured form of trading, that results in sincere choices for two parties that avoids these problems. Although there are dif.culties in extending this mechanism to more than two parties, other approaches are explored, such as permitting parties to make consecutive choices not prescribed by an apportionment method. But certain problems, such as eliminating envy, remain.
Original draft submitted to SSRN in September 2002
Journal of Theoretical Politics, Vol. 16, No. 2, 143-173 (2004)