This article titled: “Breaks or engines? The role of veto players and leaders in the new field of climate mitigation policy” is a part of Andre Schaffrin’s cumulative dissertation: Schaffrin, Andre (2013), “Policy Change: Concept, Measurement, and Causes. An Empirical Analysis of Climate Mitigation Policy”, Dissertation, Universität zu Kölln. It is available here.
Breaks or engines? The role of veto players and leaders in the new field of climate mitigation policy
Veto player theory is undoubtedly one of the most prominent approaches for explaining policy stability and change. While some studies have corroborated the influence of veto players and their preferences, other empirical work has provided mixed evidence. Three critical points are discussed: the identification of veto players, the measurement of policy preferences and the assumption of equivalence of veto players. This article aims to shed new light on the theoretical debate and empirical influence of veto players by applying the model to a newly emerging policy field. While most empirical studies have tested veto player theory in established fields such as social or economic policy, the new field of climate mitigation provides a different context for political decision-making. In this situation with a status quo outside the median preferences, a lack of policy baggage and newly forming actors and interests, the absolute anchoring of preferences and the identification of leaders seems to be an important extension of the veto player perspective. Using a mixed-methods approach, this article combines a large-N pooled time-series cross-section analysis of national policies on energy efficiency in 25 EU member states from 1998 to 2010 with a case-study analysis of the renewable electricity laws in Poland (2005) and Germany (2000). The findings demonstrate that climate leaders play a crucial role in stimulating climate mitigation policy. The case study suggests that political actors other than official veto players such as ministers or the EU strongly influence the process of agenda setting and decision making. The findings underscore the importance of including a measure of the internal cohesion of veto players, the presence of leaders, and the consideration of motives other than policy preferences in future analyses.