The Contribution of Veto Players to Economic Reform

Journal of Politics, Forthcoming

41 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2008 Last revised: 8 May 2010

See all articles by Scott Gehlbach

Scott Gehlbach

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Edmund J. Malesky

Duke University, Political Science

Date Written: May 7, 2010


Contrary to the conventional understanding that reform is more difficult when veto players are numerous, we show formally that veto players may encourage policy change by weakening the power of special interests that prefer inefficient reform outcomes. Using the same model, we demonstrate that reform reversals are less likely in the presence of multiple veto players, implying that a constitutional framework conducive to initial reforms may also lock in those achievements over time. We find support for our theoretical perspective in a study of the relationship between veto players and reform in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Keywords: Veto players, economic reform, special-interest politics

JEL Classification: D72, D78, P20

Suggested Citation

Gehlbach, Scott and Malesky, Edmund J., The Contribution of Veto Players to Economic Reform (May 7, 2010). Journal of Politics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Scott Gehlbach (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-263-2391 (Phone)

Edmund J. Malesky

Duke University, Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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