There are many sound texts on the policy process that discuss the theory and practice of how policy problems emerge on to the agenda of governments and how these governments deliberate and refine a solution to issues that leads to a policy outcome. Such studies also discuss how policy once promulgated is put into practice and evaluated and how it may then evolve or be terminated. The importance of any public policy is, however, for most citizens not primarily about how it is made but the consequences of its content to them as individuals. In liberal democracies, our decision on how to vote is dependent largely on the policies put forward by contending political parties. For many of us the choice we make is based on self-interest for our own well-being and that of our family or closest friends. It may also encompass a wider altruistic concern for the well-being of humanity in general. Self-interest and even more certainly altruism are often guided by established beliefs and inclinations that can be bound up as ideological and ethical values, that is, established systems of thought concerning how ideally society should be shaped. Beliefs, emotions and values are personal to the individual. These preferences are not

subject to scientific verification based on evidence, but on the experience and genetic make-up of each individual, that creates their view of the world and, more crucially, what they desire within that world. As shall be explained later this personal view of the world is not a subject that in any logical scientific sense can be judged to be right or wrong. Our policy preferences are, as a result, not so much based on positivist certainties but on our subjective values that, whilst they may be rational for us as an individual, may be irrational for others. As such, subjective beliefs are not subject to being regarded as true or false even though they may for many be either admirable or repulsive. Policy emerges through the struggles between those in positions of power to secure

their preferences. It is argued in this work that the content of public policy is a reflection of the combination of ideological and ethical values and self-interest. Usually, policy is the result of compromises made within groups rather than by any single individual. This struggle to control the process is fought within the institutional setting of governments, whether they are termed democratic or autocratic, but it is not so much the institutions that are central to how policy is made. It shall be argued in this study that the distance between democratic and autocratic policy making is not as sharply defined as many would like to believe.