Comparative European Politics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 271–289 | Cite as

The core or the winset? Explaining decision-making duration and policy change in the European Union

  • Dietrich DrünerEmail author
  • Heike Klüver
  • Ellen Mastenbroek
  • Gerald Schneider
Original Article


This article examines to what extent different formal conceptualizations of ideological conflict can help to explain the capacity for and speed of policy change in the European Union (EU). We compare the core and the winset, two competing concepts based on the spatial theory of voting. The empirical analysis shows that the latter concept bears a strong and systematic influence on decision making in the EU. The smaller the winset containing the outcomes that a majority of actors in the Council of the EU prefers over the status quo, the longer a decision-making process lasts and the smaller the potential for policy change.


Core decision-making duration European Union policy change speed winset 



Financial assistance by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Baden-Württemberg Graduate Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank Thomas König, Frans N. Stokman and Robert Thomson for valuable comments and suggestions. Replication data will be made available on


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietrich Drüner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Heike Klüver
    • 2
  • Ellen Mastenbroek
    • 3
  • Gerald Schneider
    • 4
  1. 1.European CommissionClabecqBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Social Sciences, University of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Institute for Management Research, Radboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Politics and Public Administration and Graduate School of Decision Sciences (GSDS), University of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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