Political Competition and Judicial Independence in Non-Democracies
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This dissertation examines the relationship between political competition and judicial independence in non-democratic polities. In it I advance two key arguments. The first is that the common "political insurance" explanation of judicial independence in democracies, predicated on the incentivizing effects of electoral competition, should also offer insights to explaining independence outside the democratic context. The second argument is that when present, electoral competition should be of greater salience in non-democracies due to the significantly higher risks associated with losing office in a non-democratic regime. I begin by discussing the concept of judicial independence and approaches in the existing literature seeking to explain variation in judicial independence in democracies, and how the literature fails to adequately address the question of regime type. I then address in Chapter 2 a fundamental aspect of the insurance model of independence that to date has been assumed but never empirically examined, showing that independent courts are highly associated with positive outcomes for leaders after leaving office. Tests of the two main arguments are presented over four chapters. Chapters 3 and 4 examine non-democracies exclusively, testing the first argument and finding that it holds up across different measures of the key concepts. Chapters 5 and 6 address the conditional relationship between competition and regime type, showing both globally and in an extended study of the postcommunist region that the effects of competition are much greater in non-democracies. This dissertation contributes to the study of judicial independence broadly, and the growing focus on judicial institutions outside of consolidated democracies. It further stands as one of the most thorough treatments of the dominant insurance model of judicial independence, providing the first ever test of one of its key assumptions and offering insights into the scope conditions and explanatory power of political competition. Most critically, I extend this explanation to the non-democratic context, arguing that the logic of the explanation implies it should be of even greater explanatory power in non-democracies. I test my argument exhaustively, using multiple measures of the key concepts and assessing the strength of the argument both globally and in the postcommunist states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
- Political science