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Political Research Exchange - PRX

On the Winners and Losers of European Adjudication: Exploring the Socio-Political Foundations of Public Support for Adjudication on Human Rights

Human Rights
Public Opinion
Survey Research
Juan Antonio Mayoral
University of Copenhagen
Juan Antonio Mayoral
University of Copenhagen
Mikael Rask Madsen
University of Copenhagen
Anton Strezhnev
University of Pennsylvania
Erik Voeten
Georgetown University

European Courts (ECs) have generally enjoy high levels of public support. However recently, a wave of populism is challenging ECs. ECs are criticized notably when intervening in questions related to national sovereignty or the protection of minority rights, issues which are perceived by populist as ‘special interests’ of ‘the elite’ at the expense of ‘the people’ or ‘majority’. European Courts are accused of being too liberal and interfering with the ‘general will’ when protecting minority rights and counterbalancing powers of the executive. This critique of ECs potentially undermines their public authority and support, which is crucial for their functioning. Although the public cannot close or withdraw from ECs on their own, the lack of public authority can trigger or amplify processes of political and judicial pushback.

Recent literature has shown the importance of citizens’ satisfaction with global governance institutions. Unemployment, subjective deprivation, evaluation of migration as a threat to national coherency, trust in governance institutions, and national and supranational identities play an important role in creating cleavages in national societies that now is being translated into a critique of ECs. Through experiment survey analysis across several European countries (Denmark, Poland, Spain, France), the study tests first whether support for European adjudication is affected by the evaluation that citizens make of the different actors involved in adjudication (e.g. governments, national and European courts). Second, we investigate how socio-economic characteristics of citizens might have an impact on their attitudes towards the protection of the rights of groups/minorities in their societies, both nationally and at European level.
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