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Courts and Elections

There is plenty of news about the recent decision by the constitutional court of Turkey annulling the election a few days ago, as the BBC reports (with an ever-helpful Q&A here).  Yet another example of increasingly visible entrances by courts around the world into large-scale political debates… whether or not these are the “right” decisions (or are “bullet[s] aimed at democracy”) and whether or not this is just another route to contest and gain power.  The overall political environment remains a cause for concern.  Evidently those more familiar with the political situation in Turkey would be able to have a feel for what the decision means.

It would be an interesting study to take a look at such recent decisions around the world and see just what the decisions are actually doing and how they fit into respective spheres of power.  Are these decisions ”appropriate” challenges, attacks, or possibly ways of just hiding or delaying a process and thereby allowing an election to look more legitimate (as was possibly the case in Nigeria)?  Of course each country’s situation is different, but it would be interesting to see a survey of the different ways high court decisions in elections are made and/or used.  It seems that comparitive election law is a hot topic, with such great new material.    

Studying these decisions might help play with assumptions that more “rule of law” is better…it might not just be a question of quantity of decisions, but also substantively whether or not they are in the interest of justice or political decisions are being made via the cover of the courts and the “law” (as some have argued happened here in Bush v. Gore).  Of course only the most naive feel that the courts are not political to some extent everywhere, but there are lines and borders of restraint, and the “rule of law” is always trying to define what these are.

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