The Trembling Chairman Paradox

Carlos Alós-Ferrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Chairman Paradox (Farquharson, 1969) is a classical observation in voting games showing that a Chairman endowed with tie-breaking power might end up with her worst outcome. The analysis posits three players whose preferences build a Condorcet cycle and invokes Iterated Elimination of Weakly Dominated Strategies (IEWDS) to select a unique equilibrium. However, IEWDS is a controversial procedure which exhibits well-known weaknesses. This work relies on non-controversial equilibrium refinements instead. For any cardinal payoffs representing the preferences, two pure-strategy equilibria are trembling-hand perfect, the paradoxical one and another one where the Chairman attains her best outcome. The original paradox is restored (and shown not to actually depend on IEWDS) if one considers the stronger concept of proper equilibrium. The analysis casts new light on a classical paradox and illustrates the difference between properness and trembling-hand perfection in a relevant example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Chairman Paradox
  • Iterated dominance
  • Proper equilibria
  • Trembling-hand perfection
  • Voting games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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