Deciding on what to Decide


We study collective decision-making procedures involving the formation of an agenda of issues and the subsequent vote on the position for each issue on the agenda. Issues that are not on the agenda remain unsettled. We use a protocol-free equilibrium concept introduced by Dutta et al. (2004) and show for two prominent voting procedures that essentially any subset of issues may be excluded from the agenda in equilibrium. What is voted upon and what is not depends on the voters’ preferences in a subtle manner, suggesting a high degree of instability. We also discuss further conditions under which our results about the variability of agendas result may be qualified. In particular, we study those cases where all issues will be put in the agenda.