The Power of Compromise
Proposal Power, Partisanship, and Public Support in International Bargaining
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 November 2020
In an era of increasingly public diplomacy, conventional wisdom assumes that leaders who compromise damage their reputations and lose the respect of their constituents, which undermines the prospects for international peace and cooperation. This article challenges this assumption and tests how leaders can negotiate compromises and avoid paying domestic approval and reputation costs. Drawing on theories of individuals’ core values, psychological processes, and partisanship, the author argues that leaders reduce or eliminate domestic public constraints by exercising proposal power and initiating compromises. Employing survey experiments to test how public approval and perceptions of reputation respond to leaders’ strategies across security and economic issues, the author finds attitudes toward compromise are conditioned by the ideology of the audience and leader, with audiences of liberals being more supportive of compromise. In the US case, this results in Republican presidents having greater leeway to negotiate compromises. The article’s contributions suggest that leaders who exercise proposal power have significant flexibility to negotiate compromise settlements in international bargaining.
- Research Article
- Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 2020