The Right Coast

March 30, 2005
The Costs of Supermajority Rules
By Mike Rappaport

As readers of this blog will know, I have been a strong proponent of supermajority rules in a variety of settings, including Iraq. That said, there are costs to supermajority rules and Iraq is now experiencing them.

One of the biggest costs of supermajority rules is that they often make it more difficult to reach agreement. The Iraqis appears to be suffering from this cost, as they have not yet been able to negotiate an agreement to form a government. The longer they wait, the more opponents of democracy will have ammunition for arguing that democracy cannot work in a multiethnic country like Iraq.

That said, I cannot be too upset about the delay. Had a simple majority, rather than two thirds, been necessary to form a government, there would be more serious problems. The Shiite block would have formed a government long ago, but it would have had much less incentive to compromise with either the Kurds or the Sunnis. In the long run, that would be more likely to lead to internal fighting and also would have led to a worse regime.