Political Competition and Judicial Integrity: The Case of Mexico
21 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 27 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
Political competition, over time, both lowers politicians’ resistance to judicial neutrality and increases their electoral motivations to honor political and economic rights of citizens, making judicial independence the least needed precisely where it is the most feasible. Empirical investigation, however, shows that competition alone is a poor predictor of the adoption of judicial reform to insulate courts from political influence in Mexican states. Competition appears to have a non-linear effect on political calculations. When competition is very weak, incumbent politicians are under little pressure to sell themselves to voters as proponents of judicial integrity. A long standing party slipping in the polls, on the other hand, may have an incentive to adopt judicial reforms as a way to bolster itself with swing voters or to protect itself from future legal depredations of the prospective new party. But when electoral margins are knife-edged, an incumbent party faces strong short term incentives to use whatever tools available, including judicial manipulation, to stay in office. This latter impulse, we expect, is stronger in transitional democracies in which clientelism and poor voter information interferes with electoral punishment of political corruption.
Keywords: judicial integrity, mexico, rule of law, political competition
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation