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Politicized Justice in Emerging Democracies
A Study of Courts in Russia and Ukraine

$113.00 (C)

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  • Date Published: January 2012
  • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107014893

$ 113.00 (C)

Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
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About the Authors
  • Why are independent courts rarely found in emerging democracies? This book moves beyond familiar obstacles, such as an inhospitable legal legacy and formal institutions that expose judges to political pressure. It proposes a strategic pressure theory, which claims that in emerging democracies, political competition eggs on rather than restrains power-hungry politicians. Incumbents who are losing their grip on power try to use the courts to hang on, which leads to the politicization of justice. The analysis uses four original datasets, containing 1,000 decisions by Russian and Ukrainian lower courts from 1998 to 2004 in two politically salient types of cases – electoral registration disputes and defamation lawsuits against media outlets – as well as data from interviews with judges, lawyers, litigants, and judicial administrators. The main finding is that justice is politicized in both countries, but in the more competitive regime (Ukraine) incumbents leaned more forcefully on the courts and obtained more favorable rulings.

    • First book-length comparative study of political factors that influence the behavior of post-Communist lower courts
    • Proposes a new quantitative measure of judicial independence that is both more reliable and more directly tied to the rule of law than existing measures
    • First book-length systematic analysis of electoral registration disputes and defamation lawsuits against media outlets in the post-Communist region
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    • Winner (in Hardback) of the 2012–2013 American Association for Ukrainian Studies Book Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    "… Politicized Justice in Emerging Democracies is an interesting and noteworthy contribution to the literature on courts in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine. It demonstrates a masterful combination of various research methods, a coherent and convincing narrative and the courage to study a highly politicised and understudied topic."
    Europe-Asia Studies

    "… Popova achieves much with her clear writing and sharp analysis: her original theory builds upon work of other scholars and is borne out by her detailed study, which challenges the prevailing conception of the relationship between political competition and judicial independence. It also confirms a gap - or more aptly, a chasm - between de jure and de facto judicial independence in these post-Soviet states."
    The Cambridge Law Journal

    "For comparative judicial scholars, especially those who have had a longstanding focus on the performance of civil rights and liberties in the democratizing world - and more specifically the post-Soviet realm - this is an indispensable book. It challenges readers to think hard about the socio-political context in which institutional reform takes place, warning us against placing too much hope on the ability of the law as a tool to hold political authorities accountable without taking into consideration the limits imposed by the specific reality in which they operate. More importantly, Popova’s book makes a significant contribution to the study of judicial independence in comparative perspective. Its clear theoretical framework, meticulous analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, and thorough discussion of both formal institutions and informal political dynamics, make it mandatory reading in graduate syllabi in the field …"
    Raul A. Sanchez Urribarri, Global Law Books (

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107014893
    • length: 210 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 157 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus. 14 tables
    • availability: Temporarily unavailable - available from TBC
  • Table of Contents

    1. What is judicial independence?
    2. Judges and politicians: theories about the origins of judicial independence
    3. What can a focused comparison of Russia and Ukraine tell us about the origins of independent court
    4. The role of Ukrainian and Russian courts in the provision of free and fair elections: judicial independence from politicians during the 2002 Rada and the 2003 Duma campaigns
    5. The role of Ukrainian and Russian courts in the provision of press freedom: judicial independence in defamation lawsuits, 1998–2003
    6. Politicians' capacity to pressure the courts
    7. Politicians' willingness to pressure the courts, 1998–2004 and beyond.

  • Author

    Maria Popova, McGill University, Montréal
    Maria Popova is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University. She is the winner of the 2007 Edward S. Corwin Award from the American Political Science Association for best dissertation in the field of public law and the 2006 Sumner Dissertation Prize in the Department of Government at Harvard University. Her writings have been published in Comparative Political Studies, Demokratizatsiya, Europe-Asia Studies, the Journal of East European Law and Konstitutsionnoe Pravo: Vostochnoevropeiskoe Obozrenie.


    • Winner (in Hardback) of the 2012–2013 American Association for Ukrainian Studies Book Prize

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