The article presents an eight‐point analytical framework for the examination of key political‐institutional aspects of the functioning of national competition policy institutions. These are assessed against the competition policy regimes of the EC, UK, Germany, and, to a lesser extent, the US. Each element represents an aspect or institutional arena in which there is potential andlor actual room for the exercise of political influence and power in an increasingly important realm of micro‐economic governance. Such political arenas and channels are woven in and around a set of competition authorities in each county or jurisdiction otherwise primarily attempting to apply economic analysis to numerous specific case decisions. The eight elements of the framework are: 1) the use of explicit non‐competition criteria that can be taken into account by competition authorities; 2) ranges of, and opportunities for, ministerial discretion; 3) intra‐cabinet and intra‐govern‐mental pressures from other ministers and departments and their political clientele interests; 4) direct hearings or avenues for direct representation and pressure by interests; 5) opportunities for private legal action; 6) processes for giving comfort or guidance letters to private parties; 7) vehicles for pressure and political learning through studies, media exposure, and public persuasion; and 8) the extent to which “one‐stop” versus multi‐sector competition institutions exist and can be played off one another. Copyright