Domestic Institutional Constraints, Veto Players, and Sanction Effectiveness


What effect do the domestic institutional constraints in target states have on sanction outcomes? Other than the narrow focus on political regime type, little is known about how the institutional makeup of target states might affect leaders’ ability to adjust their policies to defy sanctions. We assert that the size of veto players in targets is a crucial yet overlooked institutional factor in explaining sanction effectiveness. We contend that political leaders subject to the approval of multiple veto players are more likely to concede as they are less likely to develop polices to counter the sanctions. We assess the empirical merits of our theoretical claims by combining data on sanctions from the Threat and Imposition of Economic Sanctions data set with the veto points data from the Political Constraints data set. Results from the data analysis for the 1946 to 2005 period indicate that the size of veto players is a significant predictor of sanction success even when we control for political regime type and other major political and economic covariates of sanction effectiveness.

Publication Title

Journal of Conflict Resolution