Well-known approaches in comparative institutional analysis like the Varieties of Capitalism typology often do not explicitly consider how institutions are shaping public debates. In doing so, they fall short of grasping the full extent of divergence among advanced economies. By exploring the policy preferences of a broad range of relevant actors including public administrations, parties, interest groups, corporations, experts and transnational governmental actors, this analysis can show how the institutional constellations of the United Kingdom, France and Germany explain a considerable part of the variation in their debates on economic liberalization reforms. The analysis is based on extensive content analysis data from quality newspapers and confirms that national peculiarities in public debates are a function on the particular institutional context. Contrary to intuitive expectations from the literature on comparative political economy, however, the course of debates complements the structure of interest intermediation: In Germany and France, corporatist and state-led concertation is accompanied by comparatively fierce public debates, whereas the conflictive decision-making processes in the United Kingdom go along with rather calm public conflicts. Key to understand this complementarity is the consideration of both political-economic and general democratic institutions, which are conjointly shaping the outcome of debates.