Veto Players, the Policy-Making Environment and the Expression of Authoritarian Attitudes



The number of veto players – actors with the ability to halt a change to the status quo – is consistently linked to the fluidity of the policy-making process across countries. Building upon previous work on authoritarianism, we theorize that the nature of the policy-making process, as influenced by the number of veto players, serves to shape attitudes among the public. Specifically, we argue that fractionalization of powerful political actors leads to a conflictual policy-making process, which in turn exacerbates the expression of authoritarian attitudes among those predisposed to such by portraying an image of a heterogeneous and divided society. To test this, we gather data on thousands of individuals and several countries from the World Values Survey and other sources. Results indicate that those with authoritarian predispositions are much more likely to express authoritarian attitudes where the number of veto players is high, where the preferences of these players are diverse and where the overall capacity for political change is diminished.