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Who Decides, and How?Preferences, Uncertainty, and Policy Choice in the European Parliament$
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Nils Ringe

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572557

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572557.001.0001

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Focal Points as Mechanisms for Policy Choice

Focal Points as Mechanisms for Policy Choice

(p.89) Chapter 4 Focal Points as Mechanisms for Policy Choice
Who Decides, and How?

Nils Ringe (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 revisits the book's theoretical framework by questioning the assumption of the perceived preference coherence model that nonexpert MEPs blindly adopt the policy positions of ‘their’ expert colleagues when making policy choices. Recognizing that this assumption is problematic, the chapter introduces the distinction between indifferent and invested legislators. Unlike their indifferent colleagues, invested legislators consider a proposal salient enough to want to know how it relates to their most preferred outcomes. This information is provided by policy experts in the form of focal points, which summarize and evaluate the expected implications of the legislation. Invested legislators are not equally receptive of all focal points, however. Only if they perceive to share a common set of preferences concerning desirable policy outcomes with the provider of focal points will they accept and act upon their input. In other words, perceived preference coherence remains key to understanding policy choice.

Keywords:   focal points, indifferent legislators, information, invested legislators, perceived preference coherence

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