The shadow of the polls: Electoral effects on international agreements

Alastair Smith, David R. Hayes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Using Putnam's (1988) metaphor of two-level games, we consider the relationship between international agreements and domestic elections. We develop a Reversion Point game to reflect the anarchy of the international system. In this game, deals last only as long as both sides continue to support them. When nations form international agreements, they do so knowing how these agreements affect future renegotiations. Rather than model the electorate as an informal ratifier of agreements, we assume that voters make deliberate choices about which party to elect. Since agreements made prior to an election affect the deals that are renegotiated following an election, today's agreements affect which party the electorate prefer to renegotiate agreements in the future. Thus, agreements affect the outcome of elections. A government's strategy in negotiations is therefore affected by how deals influence future renegotiation and elections. We characterize the circumstances under which elections compel governments to accept agreements that myopically they do not support or reject agreements that are myopically favorable.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)79-108
    Number of pages30
    JournalInternational Interactions
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1997


    • International negotiations
    • Two-level games

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations


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