By Adriana Bunea and Robert Thomson

We examine how an executive’s consultations with interest groups during the formative stage of the policy process affect its bargaining success during the decision-making stage after it has proposed new policies to legislative actors. Our theory sets out how consultations with interest groups strengthen the executive by bolstering its formal and informal agenda-setting power. The empirical testing ground for our theory is the European Union (EU), and in particular the consultations held by the European Commission. The analysis assesses the effects of these consultations on the congruence between the Commission’s legislative proposals on controversial issues and EU laws. Our analysis incorporates detailed information on the type and scope of each consultation. In line with our theory, we find that the Commission had more success during the decision-making stage after conducting open consultations with large numbers of interest groups during the policy formation stage.



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