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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The double majority rule : estimating the impact of a supermajoritarian rule in pre-Confederation Canada Raddatz, Adrian


This thesis uses a counterfactual simulation to estimate the impact that applying the double majority rule would have had on legislative productivity in the Province of Canada, 1840-1867. The double majority rule was supermajoritarian in nature, and if applied would have required two sectional majorities from the administrative regions within the province to pass legislation. The thesis compares a constructed dataset where votes could only pass with a double majority to the observed data, arguing that applying the double majority rule would have reduced legislative productivity. There is weak statistical evidence found supporting gridlock interval size as the causal explanation for the decreased productivity, but this is argued to be due to abnormal status quo points and the potential for voting patterns to collapse from two ideological dimensions to one. Finally, the introduction of responsible government is found to not influence whether votes were passed with a double majority. This is explained through the partisan capacity hypothesis, which argues that supermajoritarian rules are ignored when they would prevent a government from implementing its legislative agenda. These conclusions argue that the historical literature was correct that applying the double majority rule would have reduced productivity, but wrong about the impact of responsible government on passing votes with double majorities.

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