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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Law, Courts and Judicial Politics

Comparative Politics
Section Number
Section Chair
Christoph Hönnige
Universität Hannover
Section Co-Chair
Sylvain Brouard
Institut d'Études Politiques de Bordeaux

Courts and legal arguments play an increasingly important role in contemporary politics, but also in the concepts of comparative politics. In spite of this fact, comparative research about courts is under-developed outside in the United States (Hönnige 2011). Scholars have mainly focused on the Judicialization hypothesis, with its narrow argument that the introduction of a constitutional court and its subsequent activity leads to a Judicialization of political decisions. Only a few articles questioned this position and claimed that Judicialization may at least be regulated by some variables, such as judicial preferences, judicial dogmas, public opinion and electoral competition (e.g. Vanberg 2002, Brouard 2009). We also rarely find substantial comparative analyses of courts and their internal institutional settings as well as their relations to other actors and institutions. The research gaps are especially problematic since courts play an important role in most concepts of comparative politics.

Therefore, the field of law, courts and judicial politics needs to move ahead in the European context. In order to set a firm base for comparative research we have to fulfil a series of tasks. We need to enlarge our focus of research in regard of approaches, issues, methodology and data in a comparative manner. We therefore suggest eight aspects to be discussed in this section: (1) international courts, (2) courts in democratic systems, (3) the institutional design of legal institutions, (4) the empowerment of courts especially in new regimes, (5) EU litigation politics, (6) judicial reforms, and (7) constitutional politics. The (8) is explicitly dedicated to methods and data with a focus on textual analysis.

Biographical Information:

Prof. Dr. Christoph Hönnige is Professor of German Politics at the University of Göttingen. He received his PhD from the University of Potsdam. His research interests are constitutional courts, agenda control and party discipline and regional politics.

Dr Sylvain Brouard is Senior Research Fellow FNSP at SPIRIT, Sciences Po Bordeaux where he is currently co-directing in the French Agendas Project. His research focuses on comparative politics, lawmaking and constitutional politics in Western democracies as well as on minority politics.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P041Constitutional Politics in Times of Uncertainty View Panel Details
P052Courts in Democratic Systems View Panel Details
P053Courts, Democratisation and Transitional Justice View Panel Details
P054Courts: Actors, Rules and Incentives View Panel Details
P099EU Law, Courts and Litigants: Litigation and Governance in a Supranational Polity View Panel Details
P176Judicial Empowerment and Political Regimes View Panel Details
P177Judicial Institutions in Authoritarian Regimes and their Implications for Transitional Justice View Panel Details
P179Judicial Reforms and Public Administration: A Street-Level Bureaucrat Perspective View Panel Details
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